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Old 12-22-2010, 05:02 AM
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Regulations for defining 'local food' are open for public comment.
John Vogel
Published: Dec 22, 2010


Last Friday, rules proposed for defining "local food" by Maryland Department of Agriculture were published in the Maryland Register for public comment. They seek to clarify for consumers as to what constitutes local.

"With the increased interest in buying local and the current lack of agreement on defining local, we feel it's paramount that consumers have the information needed to make informed decisions about their food purchases," explains Ag Secretary Buddy Hance.

"If advertising a food product as 'local', the proposed regulations will require businesses to disclose the origin of their product. That way, consumers can make their own determination if a food advertised as 'local' meets their standard."

The 2010 Policy Choices Survey by the University of Baltimore Schaefer Center for Public Policy found that 78% of Marylanders are more likely to buy produce that's identified as having been grown by a Maryland farmer.

Current state law authorizes the ag secretary to regulate the use of the terms "local" or "locally grown" when used to advertise agricultural and seafood products. It aims to support Maryland farmers and provide transparency to consumers interested in purchasing local foods.

In recent years, interest in locally produced foods has surged. It has led to rapid growth of farmer's markets, and the appearance of Maryland products in restaurants and grocery stores. However, there's been little agreement as to the definition of "local" foods.

So, a task force of farmers, retail representatives, consumer advocates, and other interested stakeholders provided input for the proposal. In brief, the proposed rules:

• Apply to all foods, including fish and shellfish, that haven't been more than minimally processed.

• Foods termed as "regional" may not be labeled for sale as local or locally grown.

• Products sourced from different states of origin but intermingled for sale under a single advertisement, must have a disclosure statement posted for each state from which the intermingled products originated.

Visit http://www.dsd.state.md.us/MDRegister/mdregister.aspx for a link to the Register. Click on the December 17 report, and go to page 1817.

Comments may be sent to Mark Powell, Chief of Marketing, Maryland Department of Agriculture, 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21401. Or call 410-841-5775 or e-mail PowellMS@mda.state.md.us , or fax to (410) 841-5957. Comments will be accepted through January 18, 2011
THIS is a MUCH NEEDED Law in Maryland from my Viewpoint , Theres nothing worse than to buy a Selected bunch of tomatoes that ya think are Vine Ripened, & get home & cut em & discover Pithy, white centered Hot House Trash , Same with Seafood , Crab meat ,Fish Etc Not Labeled , Fresh OR Canned --This would be a good Winter project , That could produce a Better Summer Buying Experiance --If ya live in Maryland , Go To It --geo.
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