Maryland recently published revised proposed rules regulating the advertising of "local" foods in the Maryland Register for public comment.
The regulations were drafted by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) as part of a 2010 state law that seeks to bring clarity to consumers as to what constitutes "local". After reviewing initial comments, MDA has redrafted the regulations.
According to MDA, food products are adverted as 'local', the proposed regulations will require businesses to disclose the product's origin.
The law authorizes the 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 by informing Marylanders about their local foods purchases.
The law was drafted in response to increased interest in locally produced foods. Local food trends have led to the rapid growth of farmer's markets, as well as demand for local products in restaurants and grocery stores. Despite the popularity, there has been little agreement as to the definition of "local" foods.
Input for the proposal originated from a task force of farmers, retail representatives, consumer advocates, and other interested stakeholders.
The redrafted regulations require businesses that advertise raw meat, eggs, fish, fruits, vegetables, shellfish and processed dairy products as local or being locally grown, regionally grown or produced, or otherwise represented as having originated close by, must have point-of-sale signage indicating the state of its origin.
A "Frequently Asked Questions" document is available online at: http://www.mda.state.md.us/pdf/buylocalfaq.pdf
The Maryland Register entry can be viewed at:
source: MDA press release