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Local food producers go legit

May 31, 2012
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Mark Stambler’s award winning pain levain. Credit: Kevin Ferguson

Mark Stambler is a home bread maker who spent years perfecting his craft and finally came up with a product he could sell to local shops in his Los Feliz neighborhood. His bread making attracted so much attention that the Los Angeles Times published a long piece about him and his special outdoor bread oven.

But soon after the article appeared, Mark was contacted by the Los Angeles Department of Environmental and ordered to stop selling his bread to stores. Stambler was not authorized to run a cottage food industry and his bread was deemed unsafe for public consumption because it hadn’t been inspected.

Michael Gatto is the assemblyman for the 43rd district in which Mark resides and has taken up his cause with AB 1616, an assembly bill that would allow for the sale of certain homemade foods to the public. The California Homemade Food Act was introduced to help micro food businesses throughout the state by creating a pathway for the legal sale of safe homemade food products such as breads, tortillas, dry roasted nuts and legumes, granola, churros, rice cakes, jams, jellies, other fruit preserves, and cookies. The bill passed the California Assembly on Tuesday and is now headed for approval to the Senate.

This bill may be good for micro-entrepreneurs but does it undermine safety regulations that protect consumers? Can home food producers be regulated without stifling creative entrepreneurial activity?

Guest:

Michael Gatto, Assemblyman for the 43rd Assembly District, representing the cities of Burbank, Glendale, and parts of Los Angeles, including Los Feliz, North Hollywood, Silver Lake, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, and Van Nuys.

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