Some homemade items could be exempt from food inspections

From The Register-Mail:

With farmers market season just around the corner, Sen. David Koehler, D-Peoria, visited Knox College on Monday to discuss a bill moving through the state legislature that could increase participation among local bakers and canners.

Koehler is the chief sponsor of SB 137 which seeks to deregulate some of the requirements small vendors have to go through to be able to sell homemade baked goods or canned items at farmers markets.

As a small business operator, Koehler and his wife sell bread and other baked goods at farmers markets. He said current law, which calls for all value-added food items to be produced in a commercial kitchen, can be “very cost-prohibitive” to would-be entrepreneurs.

Koehler said SB 137 — soon to be SB 840, due to problems in the House — would only apply to sellers of “non-harzardous foods,” such as baked goods, relishes, salsas, jellies and jams. It would require a food sanitation license and a label that states “homemade and not subject to state inspection.”

He said the bill has garnered bi-partisan support and passed out of committee unanimously, but health departments, especially the Cook County Health Department, “hate this bill,” as it would reduce their oversight.

Koehler said he remains committed to passing the bill this year, with or without Cook County, possibly with an exception for communities of more than one million people…