Public Health opposes home kitchen exemptions

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Department of Public Health and Social Services Chief Environmental Public Health Officer Tom Nadeau says they still do not support Bill 88-35 because they believe it's not in the best interest of the people of Guam and the island visitors.

Both the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services and the Guam Waterworks Authority said “no” to Bill 88-35, which seeks to exempt home kitchens from certain sanitation laws and other requirements.

During the public hearing for the bill last week, author of the bill Senator Tina Muna Barnes stated that Bill 88-35 would help stimulate the economy and make it easier for budding entrepreneurs to get their product out to the market.

Barnes explained that under the provisions, cottage food producers are allowed to sell directly to the customer coupled with the labeling requirements saying that the food is not inspected by DPHSS, the customer becomes what the bill describes as an informed end user.

Additionally, only certain foods can be exempted from sanitation laws like foods not considered hazardous and foods that don’t require temperature control.

However, Department of Public Health and Social Services Chief Environmental Public Health Officer Tom Nadeau says they still do not support the bill because they believe it’s not in the best interest of the people of Guam and the island visitors.

“The adoption and the enactment of Bill 88-35 would undermine and contradict the very purpose why food safety laws and regulations exist. The hallmark of an effective food safety program has always been the enactment of robust legislation to protect consumers. To eliminate regulatory oversight of any food management manufacturing process, including what Bill 88-35 defines as ‘potentially hazardous food’, is to invite increased risk of potential foodborne illness outbreaks occurring on our island,” Nadeu said.

Guam Waterworks Authority Senior Regulatory Analyst Vangie Lujan also stated that GWA does not support the bill because of the potential increase of fats, oil, and grease in our water system.

“Currently, GWA recommends that a grease removal device (GRD) is installed in food service establishments, including home industries. FOG is introduced into the sewage system through food preparation, cooking, and cleaning. Significant fog is generated from residential kitchens,” Lujan said.

Barnes said she will work closely with the government agencies but in the meantime, written testimonies for Bill 88-35 are still being accepted.

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