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article imageArizona's licensing bill would threaten food safety for millions

By Karen Graham     Feb 29, 2016 in Food
Arizona House Bill 2613, approved by the Commerce Committee on February 17, would eliminate licensing requirements for a host of professions. Opponents of the bill cite the damage this could have in food safety and consumer risk.
The bill has been touted as a positive step in streamlining government and has had Republican support. In being approved by the House Commerce Committee on Feb. 17, it moves forward, even while having been amended several times.
HB 2613, proposed by Governor Doug Ducey, has a dozen sponsors and co-sponsors, 11 of them Republicans. The bill passed the Commerce Committee five to three, along party lines.
Basically, the bill would allow the state to do away with licensing requirements for landscape architects, geologists, assayers, driving school instructors, fruit packers, and yoga instructors. Rene Guillen, a policy advisor to the governor, says the bill is a step forward in cutting the number of professions that need licensing, reports the Capitol Times.
“Simply stated, licensing should be the last option, not the first. We should be willing to periodically review the status quo and see if current regulations reach the proper balance of employment opportunity and government oversight. Reducing regulations mean more money for hardworking Arizonans,” Guillen told the House Commerce Committee last week.
Food safety at risk?
Arizona is number 2 behind California in the production of lettuce and leafy greens in the nation. Shelly Tunis of the Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association testified before the house Commerce Committee, reported Food Safety News, pointing out that the "concern is food safety."
"We need to know everybody who touches that fruit and vegetable as it goes along the line, and that starts with the people that put it in the box. This license helps with traceback.” The Arizona Citrus, Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Council is also opposing the bill for the same reasons.
Having any business licensed to handle food products is more important than many people realize. The expression, "from farm to fork" is meaningful because tracking allows consumers, retailers, restaurants, and manufacturers the ability to track a product back to its source, or where it was grown.
Without being able to find the source of a contaminated fresh produce product or where chicken or beef originated, we are setting ourselves up for long, drawn-out investigations that may end up putting even more of the population at risk of food-borne illnesses.
More about arizona licensing bill, governor ducey, consumers at risk, HB 2613, Professionals
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