Soapbox

Bill will make sure meal kits don’t deliver illness

Meal kits such as Blue Apron’s sumac-spiced salmon are becoming more popular, but aren’t regulated the same as food at restaurants and grocery stores.
Meal kits such as Blue Apron’s sumac-spiced salmon are becoming more popular, but aren’t regulated the same as food at restaurants and grocery stores. New York Times file

Without swift action, a growing part of California’s food supply will be left unsafe. That’s because meal-kit delivery startups are rapidly increasing in number and popularity and currently are exempt from the same safety standards that reduce the risk of illness from food purchased from restaurants or grocery stores.

 
Opinion

Legislators heeded the warnings of the California Association of Environmental Health Administrators – the 62 local officials responsible for keeping food safe – and supported Assembly Bill 1461. Now, Gov. Jerry Brown needs to sign it. The do-nothing approach advocated by The Bee’s editorial board will only make Californians sick (“Here are some special interest bills that ought to die in Legislature,” Sept. 5).

California has prevented countless deaths from food-borne pathogens by mandating training for food preparers to prevent contamination. Consumers putting their trust in online meal delivery services likely don’t know that these companies handle huge quantities of food in giant warehouses without the same standards that apply to local restaurants and grocery stores. Families could find themselves with something they didn’t bargain for – serious intestinal distress and, in the worst case. death.

The editorial got it right when it said if AB 1461 is good public policy, then health officials should support it. That’s why local officials who inspect your local eateries do support this important public health legislation. But The Bee was off-base by implying that labor organizations shouldn’t back such health measures; environmental health officials know that the keen eye and the solid training of people on the front lines are what make a life-saving difference.

With the rapid growth of new delivery services, public health officials are increasingly concerned that more and more of our food supply is operating outside safety regulations. AB 1461 is essential to ensure that the convenience of meal-kit delivery doesn’t come with a side of sickness.

Justin Malan is executive director of the California Association of Environmental Health Administrators. He can be contacted at justin@ccdeh.com.

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