BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó



                                                                     SB 969


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          Date of Hearing:   June 14, 2016


                            ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON HEALTH


                                   Jim Wood, Chair


          SB  
          969 (Nguyen) - As Amended May 27, 2016


          SENATE VOTE:  37-0


          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 24  
          hours, notwithstanding provisions of law that require  
          potentially hazardous foods to either be refrigerated or kept  
          hot.  Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Permits a food facility, if permitted by federal law, to sell  
            Vietnamese rice cakes that have been at no more than 70  
            degrees Fahrenheit for up to 24 hours, notwithstanding  
            provisions of California law that require potentially  
            hazardous foods to either be refrigerated or kept at or above  
            135 degrees Fahrenheit.

          2)Requires Vietnamese rice cakes that have been at no more than  
            70 degrees Fahrenheit but have been stored for more than 24  
            hours to be destroyed in a manner approved by the enforcement  
            agency.










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          3)Requires manufacturers of Vietnamese rice cakes to place a  
            label, issued by the Vietnamese Rice Cake Association Inc., 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 24 hours of the  
            date and time printed on the label. 



          4)Specifies that 3) above 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.



          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 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,










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             c)   Requires any Vietnamese rice cakes that are unwrapped  
               from the banana leaves, after cooking, to be refrigerated.





          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, and to be discarded within four hours from the  
            time when the food is removed from temperature control.



          5)Defines "Korean rice cake" as a confection that contains rice  
            powder, salt, sugar, various edible seeds, oil, dried beans,  








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            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  
            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.  Requires  
            manufacturers of Korean rice cakes to place a label issued by  
            the Korean Rice Cake Association that includes the date of  
            manufacture and a statement that the rice cake must be  
            consumed within one day of manufacture.



          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.



          FISCAL EFFECT:  According to the Senate Appropriations  
          Committee, pursuant to Senate Rule 28.8, negligible state costs.


          COMMENTS:  


          1)PURPOSE OF THIS BILL.  According to the author, traditional  
            Vietnamese rice cakes are manufactured primarily around the  
            holiday seasons such as Tet (New Year).  There are generally  
            two forms of rice cakes that can take more than eight hours to  
            cook; one with a 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  








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            requirements established by DPH 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.  This  
            bill allows for Vietnamese rice cakes that are cooked and  
            served according to traditional recipes to be sold at room  
            temperature with appropriate warning labels.

          2)BACKGROUND.  Pursuant to AB 2214 (Tran), Chapter 610, Statutes  
            of 2006, DPH was required to conduct a study of the sale and  
            consumption of three traditional Asian foods:  Bánh Tét, Bánh  
            Chung and, Moon Cakes.  These products, often consumed at  
            cultural events and holiday ceremonies, are traditionally held  
            and consumed at room temperature.  Enforcement by local  
            jurisdictions that 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.  



          DPH did not find a producer of Bánh Tét that would provide  
            preparation and processing information and samples to be  
            analyzed.  However, DPH did complete laboratory studies of  
            Bánh Chung.  According to DPH, when Bánh Chung is produced  
            according to the method specified in this bill, 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 Bánh  








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            Chung products have been subjected to 10 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 whether critical parameters are met, DPH  
            recommended that Bánh Chung continue to be considered a  
            potentially hazardous food.
          
          3)SUPPORT.  This bill is supported by the Cities of Santa Ana,  
            Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, and Westminster, which all  
            state that this bill ensures that Vietnamese rice cakes may be  
            sold in their traditional manner without compromising food  
            safety.  Councilmember Tom Nguyen of the City of San Jose  
            states that the current requirements put too much burden and  
            restrictions on the rice cakes, and that while these  
            regulations are intended to keep people safe, the cakes have  
            proven to not be harmful thanks to the traditional wrapping  
            and cooking techniques.  This bill is also supported by the  
            Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), which states  
            that Asian-owned businesses make up 17% of businesses in  
            California, and Vietnamese-owned businesses are the second  
            largest within the Asian American community.  SEARAC states  
            that legislation, such as this bill, ensures California is  
            respectful of culturally-specific businesses within  
            California's diverse community.  


          
          4)OPPOSE UNLESS AMENDED.  The California Association of  
            Environmental Health Administrators (CAEHA) and the California  
            Retail Food Safety Coalition (CRFSC) oppose this bill unless  
            it is amended back to its prior version.  CAEHA and CRFSC  
            object to the fact that the current version of this bill  
            requires date labels from one specific private organization,  
            the Vietnamese Rice Cake Association Inc.  CAEHA and CRFSC  
            state that it is inappropriate for state law to prescribe the  
            purchase of a product from a sole-source vendor and state  
            further that the vendor is not recognized as a third-party  
            food safety certification institution.









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          5)PREVIOUS LEGISLATION.



             a)   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.  

             b)   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.



             c)   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. 





          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association









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          City of Fountain Valley


          City of Garden Grove


          City of Santa Ana


          City of Westminster


          San Jose Councilmember Tom Nguyen 


          Southeast Asia Resource Action Center




          Opposition


          None on file.




          Analysis Prepared by:John Gilman / HEALTH / (916)  
          319-2097
















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