New Food Laws Go Into Effect, Others Blocked

  • July 02, 2012
  • By Pamela Prah

It's summertime and the living is easy, as the saying goes, unless you want to eat foie gras, the gourmet product of goose liver, in California, or have a smoke at work in Indiana. Both are banned under new laws that went into effect July 1.

New laws at the state level often begin at the start of the new fiscal year, which is July 1 for all but four states. This year, there seems to be an emphasis on laws dealing with food and tobacco.

In California, the ban on foie gras sales stems from a 2004 law that gave restaurants and goose liver-enthusiasts until this year to prepare. That law prohibits a person from force-feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird's liver beyond a normal size. Livers from birds that eat naturally will still be legal for sale, The Wall Street Journal reported, but chefs say they don't taste as good and really aren't foie gras.

Elsewhere, Virginia became a better place for people who  enjoy microbrewed beers and suffer from peanut allergies while next door in Maryland, it's now easier to bring your own wine to restaurants under new laws that went into effect there, The Washington Post explained.

And happy hour is legal once again in Kansas, The end of the happy-hour ban instituted by Kansas in 1985 is among numerous liquor law changes taking effect today under legislation signed by Gov. Sam Brownback in late May, The Associated Press reported.

In Tennessee, the sales tax on groceries went down, from 5.5 percent to 5.25 percent — with a goal to lower it to 5 percent in about two years, The Tennessean reported.

A few laws won't go into effect as planned. In Washington State, people who roll their own cigarettes won't have to pay a 15-cent-per-smoke tax starting this month because a judge blocked it until after a hearing can be held to decide if the requirement violates state law, The Olympian explained. Opponents of the tax say it violates a 2010 ballot measure voters approved that requires a two-thirds majority of the Legislature for tax increases.

In Oregon, restaurant owners and chefs got a reprieve from a new rule that was to take effect Sunday that would have required they wear gloves or otherwise avoid touching food with their bare hands, The Oregonian reported. Restaurant owners argued the requirement wouldn't make kitchens any safer than they are under the state's current hand-washing practices.

New Mexico is trying to make its chile as well known and protected as apples in Washington and potatoes in Idaho, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported. New Mexico legislators did not obtain a trademark for homegrown chile, but the New Mexico Chile Advertising Act makes it unlawful for vendors to label fresh or processed chile as being from New Mexico unless it was actually grown in the state. Those who try to pass off impostor chile will be guilty of trade infringement.