Question: What ever happened to efforts to require that bakery products that had been frozen prior to sale to be labeled as such?
Answer: A bill to this effect is moving in the Legislature. The House Health Committee on Tuesday advanced Senate Bill 1086, which would require signage where previously frozen baked goods are sold.
A bill to require labels on packages of previously frozen bread was vetoed in 2005 by then-Gov. Linda Lingle, and a 2006 bill died in conference committee.
The current bill has drawn much of its support from local unions, including the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents nearly 300 workers at Love’s Bakery of Kalihi. Previously frozen baked goods can often mean lower prices for the consumer, but unions said it gives an advantage to cheaper mainland products.
“The consuming public has a right to know whether a product has been previously frozen,” ILWU Secretary Guy Fujimura told lawmakers. “We’re not making the claim that previously frozen bread is a public health issue, but we do believe that the playing field is not level.”
House Health Committee Chairman Ryan Yamane (D, Waipahu-Mililani) amended the original bill to require signage, not labels, after critics of the proposal told lawmakers that forcing distributors of frozen bread to put “warning labels” on packaging would mislead consumers into thinking their products are inferior.
“Unlike uncooked chicken, fish, or pork, there is no law in any state in the nation regarding previously frozen bread because there is no health reason for it,” said Chad Buck, owner of Hawaii Foodservice Alliance.
His company serves as the distributor for Punaluu Bakery, Pani’s Bakery, Golden Coin, Maunakea Bakery, Watanabe Bakery and Fresh Start Bakery, as well for several national brands.
“If you go to the neighbor islands, you’re 30 to 40 percent cheaper buying this type of product,” Buck said.
“I think it is a cost issue,” said Alvin Huang, a professor in the University of Hawaii-Manoa’s Human Nutrition, Food, and Animal Sciences Department specializing in food chemistry. “It allows mainland bread to be competitive in Hawaii.”
Union leaders say the bread bill would protect local jobs. “The cost of their (mainland) bread to produce is far cheaper than what it costs to produce fresh, local bread,” said Love’s Bakery employee and ILWU member Barrett Hayashi.
The bill heads to the House Consumer Protection Committee for a final hearing.
This update was written by Chris Mikesell. You can write to us at Whatever Happened To …, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210, Honolulu 96813; call 529-4747; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.