BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON HEALTH
                          Senator Ed Hernandez, O.D., Chair

          BILL NO:                    SB 969    
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          |AUTHOR:        |Nguyen                                         |
          |---------------+-----------------------------------------------|
          |VERSION:       |March 15, 2016                                 |
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          |HEARING DATE:  |April 6, 2016  |               |               |
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          |CONSULTANT:    |Vince Marchand                                 |
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           SUBJECT  :  Vietnamese rice cakes

           SUMMARY  :  Permits a food facility to sell Vietnamese rice cakes, as  
          defined, that have been at room temperature for up to 48 hours,  
          notwithstanding provisions of law that require potentially  
          hazardous foods to either be refrigerated or kept hot.
          
          Existing law:
          1)Establishes the California Retail Food Code (CRFC) to regulate  
            retail food facilities, which is enforced by local  
            environmental health officers.

          2)Defines "potentially hazardous food" as a food that requires  
            time or temperature control to limit pathogenic micro-organism  
            growth or toxin formation.

          3)Excludes from the definition of "potentially hazardous food"  
            any food that has been shown by appropriate microbial  
            challenge studies approved by the enforcement agency to not  
            support the rapid and progressive growth of infectious or  
            toxigenic micro-organisms that may cause food infections.

          4)Requires potentially hazardous food to be maintained at or  
            above 135 degrees Fahrenheit, or at or below 41 degrees  
            Fahrenheit.

          5)Defines "Korean rice cake" as a confection that contains rice  
            powder, salt, sugar, various edible seeds, oil, dried beans,  
            nuts, dried fruits, and dried pumpkin, but which does not  
            contain any animal fats or any other products derived from  
            animals.

          6)Permits a food facility, notwithstanding the requirement that  







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            potentially hazardous foods either be kept above or below a  
            certain temperature, to sell Korean rice cakes that have been  
            at room temperature for no more than 24 hours.

          7)Permits a food facility, notwithstanding the requirement that  
            potentially hazardous foods either be kept above or below a  
            certain temperature, to sell Asian rice-based noodles that  
            have been at room temperature for no more than four hours.

          This bill:
          1)Permits a food facility to sell Vietnamese rice cakes that  
            have been at no more than 70 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 48  
            hours, notwithstanding provisions of law that require  
            potentially hazardous foods to either be refrigerated or kept  
            above 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

          2)Specifies that the above provision does not apply to  
            Vietnamese rice cakes that have been determined by the  
            Department of Public Health (DPH) to be non-potentially  
            hazardous foods based on formulation and supporting laboratory  
            documentation submitted to DPH by the manufacturer.
          3)Requires Vietnamese rice cakes that have been at no more than  
            70 degrees Fahrenheit up to 48 hours to be destroyed in a  
            manner approved by the enforcement agency.

          4)Requires manufacturers of Vietnamese rice cakes to place a  
            label on the Vietnamese rice cake that indicates the date and  
            time the cooking process was completed, and that includes a  
            statement that the rice cake must be consumed within 48 hours  
            of the date and time printed on the label.

          5)Defines a "Vietnamese rice cake," also known as Bánh Tét or  
            Bánh Chung, as a confection that contains a combination of  
            rice, beans, and meat or fruit wrapped tightly in banana  
            leaves for cooking. Defines Bánh Tét as a rice cake in a  
            cylindrical shape, and Bánh Chung as a rice cake in a square  
            shape. The definition specifies the following cooking  
            preparation:

                  a)        Requires the Vietnamese rice cake to be  
                    prepared using a traditional Vietnamese method that  
                    includes cooking by boiling in water for not less than  
                    10 hours;
                  b)        Requires the rice cakes to be handled,  
                    prepared, and stored under sanitary conditions both  








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                    when they are kept at no more than 70 degrees  
                    Fahrenheit  upon completion of cooking and after the  
                    rice cakes have been cooled to below 70 degrees  
                    Fahrenheit; and,
                  c)        Requires any Vietnamese rice cakes that are  
                    unwrapped from the banana leaves after cooking to be  
                    refrigerated.

           FISCAL  
          EFFECT  :  This bill has not been analyzed by a fiscal committee.
           
          COMMENTS  :
          1)Author's statement.  According to the author, traditional  
            Vietnamese rice cakes are manufactured primarily around the  
            holiday seasons such as Tet. There are generally two forms of  
            rice cakes that can take more than eight hours to cook; one  
            with meat-filling and one with a fruit-filling. Traditionally,  
            families will keep these rice cakes for up to one week before  
            safely consuming, although many will refrigerate them by the  
            end of the day. Due to current requirements established by the  
            Department of Public Health and due to the presence of  
            potentially perishable ingredients, Vietnamese rice cakes must  
            be sold refrigerated or frozen. However, it is against  
            tradition to purchase rice cakes that are cold. This stigma  
            prevents traditional Vietnamese rice cakes from being sold  
            year-round in stores without facing citations from health  
            regulators. Additionally, these cakes are often sold for  
            charitable events to raise money during the holidays. SB 969  
            would allow for Vietnamese rice cakes that are cooked and  
            served according to traditional recipes to be sold at room  
            temperature with appropriate warning labels.

          2)DPH report to the Legislature.  Pursuant to AB 2214 (Tran,  
            Chapter 610, Statutes of 2006), the Department of Public  
            Health was required to conduct a study of the sale and  
            consumption of three traditional Asian foods: Banh Tet, Banh  
            Chung, and Moon Cakes. These products, often consumed at  
            cultural events and during traditional ceremonies, are  
            traditionally held and consumed at room temperature, and  
            enforcement by local jurisdictions to require refrigeration  
            resulted in complaints that the products are unpalatable when  
            refrigerated. AB 2214 required DPH to determine if the  
            products could be safely held at room temperature for longer  
            periods of time.









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          DPH was unable to identify a producer of Banh Tet to provide  
            samples to be analyzed, but did complete laboratory studies of  
            Banh Chung. According to DPH, when Banh Chung is produced  
            according to the method specified in this bill, and is  
            packaged securely, and is not recontaminated during cooling,  
            packaging, and distributing, the product could be held safely  
            at room temperature for a maximum of 48 hours. However, DPH  
            concluded that the processing and handling conditions that  
            must occur so the product can reasonably be held at ambient  
            temperatures for up to 48 hours will likely prove too elusive  
            to practically implement. For example, DPH stated that it will  
            not be possible for regulatory staff to confirm or determine  
            if Banh Chung products have been subjected to ten hours of  
            boiling or whether a shorter time period was used given the  
            current equipment and methods used by the industry. Without  
            the ability to confirm critical parameters are met, DPH  
            recommended that Banh Chung not be excluded from being  
            considered a potentially hazardous food.

          3)Related legislation. SB 1067 (Huff) requires the food safety  
            certification examination, which must be completed by at least  
            one person at every retail food facility, to include major  
            food allergens and the symptoms that these allergens could  
            cause in individuals who have allergic reactions.  
            Additionally, revises and recasts provisions of law governing  
            the serving of raw and undercooked meat, and makes various  
            other updates and minor changes to the laws governing retail  
            food facilities. SB 1067 is also pending in this committee.

          4)Prior legislation. SB 888 (Yee, Chapter 508, Statutes of  
            2010), required manufacturers of Asian rice based noodles, as  
            defined, to place a label on the product indicating the date  
            and time of manufacture and include a statement that the  
            noodles must be consumed within four hours of manufacture.  
          
            SB 144 (Runner, Chapter 23, Statutes of 2006), established the  
            CRFC in order to create uniformity between California's retail  
            food safety laws and those of other states, as well as to  
            enhance food safety laws based on the best available science.

            AB 2214 (Tran), Chapter 610, Statutes of 2006), required DPH  
            to conduct a study on the effects of retail food facility  
            health and sanitation standards on the sale and consumption of  
            traditional Asian food.









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            AB 187 (Liu, Chapter 204, Statutes of 2001), permitted retail  
            food facilities to sell Korean rice cakes, as defined, that  
            have been at room temperature for less than 24 hours, and  
            required manufacturers of Korean rice cakes to provide a date  
            stamp indicating the date of manufacture and a warning label  
            that the rice cake must be consumed within one day of  
            manufacture.

          5)Oppose unless amended. The California Association of  
            Environmental Health Administrators (CAEHA) opposes this bill  
            unless amended to adopt the same standard of only 24 hours at  
            room temperature that has been established for Korean rice  
            cakes. CAEHA states that by establishing time and temperature  
            limits for one kind of food, this bill is circumventing the  
            fundamental food safety standards and tests used to determine  
            whether any food is potentially hazardous. CAEHA states that  
            while it cannot support expanding exemptions further, it  
            acknowledges that the precedent has been set with Korean rice  
            cakes, and urges that the bill be amended to adopt the same  
            standard of 24 hours at room temperature. According to CAEHA,  
            this amendment would provide comparable public health  
            protection and ease in compliance and enforcement.

           SUPPORT AND OPPOSITION  :
          Support:  None received
          
          Oppose:   California Association of Environmental Health  
                    Administrators (unless amended)
          

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