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Friday, January 28, 2022

North Pole Republican Wants to Eliminate Government Regulation… of Food

~Want some yummy fish?

You’ve got to hand it to Alaska State Rep. Tammie Wilson. Right in the middle of the “pink slime” debacle that is turning stomachs across the nation, and increasing scrutiny on what we are putting in our mouths, she’s got a project – and it’s worse than pink slime. At least that gelatinous cow-part goo was designed to preserve food.  She wants to deregulate food – even hazardous food.

Just like many of her right wing cohorts, she thinks there’s just too much government regulation these days, specifically at your local farmers’ market. Sanitation is overrated there according to the Republican from North Pole, who has taken her quest for deregulation to new and unsanitary heights.

Behold House Bill 202 – Sale of Food by Processors to Consumers. Gone are the days of food inspectors, rules and regulations, requirements for refrigeration, and soap and water. All’s fair at the farmer’s market, no matter what you’re selling.

Most of Rep. Wilson’s testimony came in the form of a skit where the plot focused only on produce and baked goods. She played a beleaguered farmer, just trying to sell her humble wares at the market, and her aide played an uptight, joyless, and unreasonable inspector from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Personal Responsibility

“We’ve heard from a lot of people who own farms, wanting to know why there is so much regulation when it’s actually that people can come and look over the farm, and see if things are clean enough for them – is it packaged the way they want,” said Wilson. “We just think that there’s something called responsibility that is here.”

Remember kids, in Wilson World part of the fun of an unregulated, free-market economy is the personal liberty that comes with driving to the farm that grows and processes your food, and butchers your meat, to take a little look-see and determine if things are up to snuff. Hmmmm…I don’t see any germs.  Looks good to me!

The ensuing skit involved a lot of food props, and the committee members had also been given samples of peeled and sliced fruit, and cookies. “I do have a knife,” Wilson demonstrated to the audience, “and I will not use it on anyone, I promise.” (Cue a weirdly awkward moment as Wilson’s aide let forth with a too-loud cackle, and the rest of the room sat in uncomfortable silence).

Under the Knife

And thus began the dramatic demonstration. Slicing of tomatoes was not allowed, because that was considered “food preparation.” Orange peeling was forbidden for the same reason. Next, she tried “an apple…one that we know daycares like to do. And I’m sure that they’re able, with no permit or anything, to be able to cut an apple for a snack.” No dice, says the inspector, “And as far as a daycare goes, if you have five or less children, you may cut. Any more than that, you’d be permitted.” (Remember this part for later, because it’s not true).

But we’re not done yet. Next up – a strawberry. Wilson begins to remove the green top.

Aide: Let me see how you’re doing that…

Wilson: My fingernail kind of went in it.

A carrot is next. No peeling allowed.

Suddenly, our inspector asks to see a license “for all that processing” the farmer is doing.

Book Learnin’

How can anyone possibly know all these rules? To add insult to injury, our farmer then learns that these rules are actually written down. With explanations. And an index. And THIS, ladies and germs, requires reading. Yes, reading. We’re now expecting people who serve food to actually READ what the rules are, so they can follow them. That neatly organized stack of papers has got to be 2/3 of an inch thick for crying out loud! It’s draconian! And heinous! And involves… reading!

We’ve barely recovered from the shock of having to be slightly inconvenienced with knowledge acquisition, when we’re hit with the final insult – Grandma’s donuts.

Time to Make the Donuts

We’ve got a custard donut, a jelly donut, and a donut with cream cheese frosting. “They were actually better last night,” Wilson notes in all seriousness as she wrinkles her nose at the custard donut, oblivious to the irony of what she has just said. “Of course it can’t be hazardous,” she goes on. They’re donuts.”

And of course, we all see where this is going. The jelly donut is fine, but the egg custard and the cream cheese need to be refrigerated. Why that pesky food inspector even had the audacity to ask our farmer how long those dairy products have been sitting out (presumably in the hot Fairbanks summer sun). What nerve.

“At least wipe off your knife,” says the inspector as Wilson begrudgingly wipes it on a napkin and says, looking knowingly at the committee, “And technically, I know I should have a wash station at my farmer’s market booth, each and every one of us, to clean this knife.”  Her eye roll is practically audible.

It’s Just So Ridiculous!

The cavalcade of food had finally come to an end, when Wilson blurts out:

“This may have seemed ridiculous, but you know, it is ridiculous! Do I want to poison anybody? It’s not a good thing to be a Representative and poison your constituents. I just want to put that on the record.”

While we’re putting this “ridiculousness” on the record, it may be instructive to check out some outtakes from before this little meeting began.


The TV cameras were rolling, but there was no audio hookup yet. This happens so people don’t embarrass themselves by saying something stupid into a “hot mic” that they weren’t intending to say in public. In this particular case, that didn’t matter. Behold our food-prepping farmer, who beautifully illustrates the hazards of her own bill during the ten minutes before the meeting started:




Who could object to dirty cutlery, snotty carrots, unrefrigerated egg custard, and the underside of Tammy Wilson’s germy fingernails in their strawberries? Ridiculous. As long as there was no willful attempt to poison, that should be enough.

Right, House members stuffing your face with food that was prepared for you by the woman in the above photos? Right?

But wait, there’s more!

Even if all this actually is OK with you, HB202 goes further. Mixing dry spices, or peeling a carrot is one thing. HB202 also deregulates meat, meat products, fish, dairy products, and shellfish – both fresh and canned. That part wasn’t in the skit. Nor were some nice ripened scallops handed out to legislators to enjoy with their cookies and apple slices.

“What if there’s a youngster who wants to try something? How many parents can, all of a sudden, have a commercial kitchen?” Wilson mused.  If HB202 passes, we can just imagine those proud parents gushing, “Look, Little Johnny made some canned raw oysters all by himself, and he’s going to sell them at the farmer’s market for some extra spending money. That’s our li’l entrepreneur!”

The Voice of Sanity

It was finally time to introduce the voice of sanity and reason into our little Theatre of the Absurd. Enter, Kristin Ryan, Director for the DEC, playing herself. She identified the Food Safety and Sanitation program as “the main target of Rep. Wilson’s bill” and began her testimony by stating what really should be the obvious:

“The DEC recognizes the interest from small food business owners throughout the state to sell products. Provisions in HB202 could cause significant risks for the general public, and increase food-borne illness outbreaks.

When you purchase food to eat, you assume it is safe. While no one intends to harm their customers, food-borne illnesses are common, and can easily happen. Precautionary measures are important to make and serve safe food. At a minimum, you need a sanitary environment, employees to wash their hands, and proper temperature control.”

The Republican bill would eliminate the ability of the DEC to investigate if an outbreak of food-borne illness was occurring. The agency would not be allowed to inspect, test, or stop the sale of a food product that is making people sick. Because Republicans love freedom. And food safety inspectors don’t.

Ryan then went on to clarify where the DEC stands now in terms of food regulation. Raw natural produce is fine. You can remove the greens, but when you use a knife, she explained, you can unknowingly introduce pathogens that can make people sick, so knives must be clean. Syrup, honey and jam are currently exempt from regulatory oversight. So are bake sales for fundraising events. “We don’t require a permit if you are peeling fruit for children at daycare,” she scolded, correcting Wilson. “And by the way, we only regulate food served at daycares that serve 12 or more children,” she explained, correcting Wilson’s earlier claim during her testimony, that it was 5 children.

But here’s the kicker. The DEC has already proposed new and expanded regulations based on public hearings held over the course of the summer, and covering foods that have minimal risk. Based on feedback, they will now exempt bread, pickles, barbeque sauce, cakes and confections, and roasted nuts. The new regulations are already in the final stages of approval at the Department of Law, and the DEC is hoping they will be in place by May, when farmers’ markets go into full swing.

Not the Voice of Sanity

Wilson not only knew this, but she was there.

“We did attend those meetings, and we asked those questions,” Wilson said. “And all we were being told the whole time is, ‘We gotta keep people safe.’ I don’t think the government is there to keep us safe from absolutely everything, otherwise we wouldn’t have vehicles, and they probably wouldn’t even let us have stoves in our homes. I mean, you can’t protect everybody from everything.”

Yeah. And the next thing you know they’re going to make you read a manual, and take a test to get a license to drive your car, so you won’t kill anyone. And they’ll have seat belt laws, and make you stop at red lights, and force everyone to drive on the right side of the road whether they want to or not. Or they’ll make stove manufacturers build to certain safety standards, and they’ll put an additive in cooking gas so you can smell it when you have a leak.  Oh, wait.

The Chair asked Wilson at one point that if the bill were modified to include only fruits and vegetables, while still allowing hazardous foods to be regulated, would she support it?  She replied that it would be a “wonderful first step.”

No, the government can’t keep “everybody safe from everything” but hopefully there are enough people IN the government to keep us safe from this bill.

And I hope anyone who votes for it will get invited to Tammie Wilson’s house for a nice big salad. Don’t worry. She’s not trying to poison you.

For anyone with a stomach left, here’s the whole meeting.



41 Responses to “North Pole Republican Wants to Eliminate Government Regulation… of Food”
  1. Kerry3d says:

    Day care, baby cribs, automobile safety, prescription drugs, building codes, pollution and so many more ‘BIG GOV’ on our back issues. “You go girl” And make this world a better place. 🙂
    I am sure the future will be just awesome if you succeed. Is there anything I can do to help?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Rep. Wilson represents North Pole and the area around it. That tells you right there the woman is a crazy conservative as that is all they elect in that town. North Pole can easily compete with Wasilla when it comes hillbilly dysfunction. Just something we have to put up with in the interior. I though she would get her crazy on sooner or later, stand firm and shoot defensive gun laws were the thing I thought she would champion.

  3. AKblue says:

    I buy local produce as often as I can (and even now it’s still being sold at Sears Mall).
    Food handling laws can probably be tweaked to accomodate small producers, but if Tammy gets her way I would no longer buy from them.
    If she ever had a case of food poisoning she would change her mind….

  4. Jed says:

    Meanwhile, a bill banning known carcinogens (HB63) languishes in the same committee…

  5. slipstream says:

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    If regulating and inspecting the food that we eat so that we do not die of horrible nasty awful infections is not “promoting the general Welfare.” I can’t imagine what it.

    • slipstream says:

      um . .. what is.

      • beaglemom says:

        You are absolutely right!

        And I include universal healthcare under that heading too. It would also help “secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and [especially] to our posterity.” I just read that the Supreme Court will decide our healthcare fate today (they’re not even pondering it for a while?) but not announce until june. I guess one could pay attention to which insurance and drug company executives get invited to lunch for a hint . . . .

  6. Sourdough Mullet says:

    Wow. I just watched the rest of the testimony (it was too much to take in one sitting). A few points:

    -Food Safety permits and approved processing equipment requirements are NOT limiting the supply of local foods in the market. FDA also regulates processed foods, and those processors would need all the same FDA (or DEC) approved equipment and measures regardless.

    -Farmers markets are growing by leaps and bounds in AK as they are elsewhere. So are foodborne illnesses.

    -Most large farms (including those from Mexico) already have food safety measures in place, and are regularly inspected for food safety. These requirements are instituted as a condition of purchase of their products by all major food wholesale purchasers. Small farms are NOT safer farms.

    -I would certainly hope that a large daycare has a DEC-approved kitchen (that’s not the same as a commercial kitchen, no matter that you kept confusing the terms). I would also hope that daycare providers could pass the (very minimal) food safety training rqmts that are in place. If they can’t, they shouldn’t be caring for kids.

    -The federal gov’t is getting MORE strict on food safety regulation, not less.

    -Raw milk and cheese is, no matter what anyone says, inherently VERY high risk. I’m a trained microbiologist, and wouldn’t drink it even if I prepared it myself. Do you really want people with a cavalier attitude about food safety taking that risk with YOUR health?

    -There are no regulations anywhere that restrict the use of un-composted animal waste on food crops, even up to the day of harvest. And I can tell you that some people think using it is a REALLY great idea. Food scientists recently found that bacteria like those that caused the recent canteloupe Listeria outbreak, or e. coli in tomatoes can pass through the skin of the fruit without even needing a cut to enter. Do you really want to buy your fruit from someone who’s using Bessie’s cowpie slurry as a fertilizer? Fresh fruits and vegetables are not “Non-hazardous”. They are “low-hazard” relative to other foods, but there is still PLENTY of room for people to do things like the above scenario, and it happens all the time. They actually need more regulation, in my opinion.

    -And how about Representative Bill Stoltze, the proudly self-proclaimed “Naked Baker”? Are you willing to take the chance that it was HIS cake you took home from the Legislature’s Bake Sale in Juneau? Need I say more?

    -Rep Miller, it’s not “the sugar” in jellies that causes them to be low-risk foods. Sugar is actually a great substrate (along with proteins found in milk, cheese and meats) for the growth of pathogens. It’s the acidity in jellies that lends the safety factor. Please leave all that tough thinkin’ type stuff to the people with some expertise, and find some other way to help Alaskans rid themselves of wrong-headed government. Your next election cycle might provide a great opportunity to do just that.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      Thank you, thank you!
      (stamping, feet, clapping wildly!!!)

    • beaglemom says:

      Thanks for the information! I have great respect for the regulators we have – from the FDA to OSHA and the EPA and any other alphabet soup government agency, federal and state, that makes life safer for us. I also have great respect for the government agencies that pay attention to the weather and to the forces that create upheavals in earth and sea. These are some of the most important people in our country and I’m willing to salute them any time. Idiots like Ms. Wilson, not so much. The teabaggers and others of their ignorant ilk have done too much damage already.

  7. Sourdough Mullet says:

    I’m a food safety inspector, and I wish I could show Tammie Wilson some of the absolutely gross, frightening, and unbelievably stupid stuff that I see people doing in the preparation of the food they are selling to the public. (Pigs in the house, flies all over the baked goods, dirty diapers thrown right next to the produce, anyone?)
    Actually, after watching the video above, I really wish that I could SERVE Tammie Wilson some of the food that I see being prepared that way…
    Tammie Wilson is the personification of the Dunning-Krueger effect. Those who know the least tend to overestimate their knowledge and expertise, simply because they are not smart enough to know what they DON’T know. Those with real knowledge are more cautious and measured. It’s my observation that “adherents” to the D-K effect are becoming more and more prevalent in State Government in AK.

  8. Alaska Pi says:
    “CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. ”

    As someone who got E.Coli , waited to go the doctor almost too long, spent many thousands of dollars on medical care (no insurance), and spent a week in the hospital and took months and months to get back to normal I have to say Ms Wilson is so off-base she misses the moon base.

    We can adjust our laws and regulations but we sure do not want to throw them out. It took us most of human history to understand how pathogens are passed round via water, food, personal contact, etc. We do not need to throw out what we know, we simply need to make it work for all of us, whether as producers or consumers of foodstuffs.

  9. Zyxomma says:

    While we’re on the subject of food safety, if you haven’t yet done so, PLEASE take a moment to write your congresscritter to ask him/her to co-sponsor a bill that would require labeling for food that contains genetically modified organisms:

    Thank you! It only takes a minute, and can TRULY save our food supply from the worst depredations of corporate America.

  10. dahli22 says:

    Brilliant and devastating post.

  11. Irishgirl says:

    AKM…she had one saving grace. She didn’t stick her fingers into her ears!

  12. Zyxomma says:

    I am aghast and agog. Tammie is out of her mind, and needs to be out of office. Get out the vote, District 11. You need a sane person to represent you. Not the voice of sanit(ar)y, indeed.

  13. jwa says:

    I just recently drove 1000 mi to participate in a bike race. The DAY before the race, I ate a bad sandwich – in a commercial restaurant – and got food poisoning. Not my first time, but if you’ve never had it, It’s no joke.

    No, there are no guarantees in life. If I go eat in Ms. Wilson’s private home, I obviously take my chances (see above photos).

    But is it really all that hard to understand that I expect the food I buy from professional vendors to be minimally safe?

  14. PollyinAK says:

    I’m unsure, but I think it was an Alaskan Senator who introduced the bill that initiated USDA for the nation.

  15. zyggy says:

    I think you need to regulate donuts for sure, look at her belly, she has a big jelly donut attached to it.

  16. UgaVic says:

    Much of my career has been in deal with food in one form or another, from growing it to its final serving to consumers directly.

    Currently my family is involved in processing food in AK, and more recently in also growing it.

    There are times when regulations seem overwhelming or foolish but with some effort, at least in the state of Alaska, you can learn what prompted the regulation and also find others who are dealing with in a reasonable manner. You can also work with others to get it changed, if needed. It take work but is possible.

    Does this uninformed legislator realize IF this ever were to pass most Alaskan food producers, from farmers to bakers to seafood companies, would quickly lose the markets they have for their products? No school, grocery store, or restaurant would buy what they produce as the liability on THEM would be 10 fold.

    Foolishness at its best!! Fairbanks…remember this and get someone who works for your benefit!!

    • OtterQueen says:

      Exactly. Some regulations are overkill or poorly thought out. But that doesn’t mean you throw out the whole program, you just work to fix the problems.

  17. If she doesn’t like the government regulating food handling, I wonder when she will go after the American Camping Association. The manual that day camps and resident camps have to follow if that want an ACA accreditation is bigger and covers everything from food to lodging to the number of toilest available. She wouldn’t like it – it’s full of rules and standards. And we complied with all the food handling without question. Why? We didn’t want the kids to get sick while they were at camp. Good grief.

    I remember the trips we took to Guatemala. We were always careful not to buy food from street vendors because it was highly likely that it would make us sick since no one regulated what they were selling. And fruit on the street? That was a no-no. Since they sold it by weight, some vendors would inject the fruit with water so it would weigh more, the very water that would make you sick if you drank it. Produce like lettuce or tomatoes had to be cleaned properly or cooked. Most of the time we were able to eat safely, especially when we ate at reputable restaurants or cooked the food ourselves. But I learned the hard way to take the lettuce and tomatoes off my burger at Pollo Campero (like KFC) when I got sick after eating it.

    I don’t want to have to do the same things here in the United States to make sure the food I’m serving my family is safe. All those government regulations she finds overbearing keep all of us safer and healthier so we can spend out time doing other things besides soaking and rinsing our food in water with iodine that gives your food a funny twangy taste no matter how much you rinse it in filtered water.

  18. Marilyn says:

    WOW just think what Typhoid Mary could do with THIS!!! I guess Texas and Alabama haven’t cornered the market on idiots.

  19. OtterQueen says:

    Even with regulation, people still get contaminated and unsafe foods. How does deregulation prevent this again….?

  20. Ndjinn says:

    I have taken the required “safe serve” class. In not rocket surgery. I don’t even think there was a test (or if there was, it was so easy I don’t remember it). This must be neigh the stupidest de-reg bill ever. Remember that guy Pasture?

    • UgaVic says:

      I taught this course nation-wide for a number of years and there is a test. I might add that it is not unusual for some to fail it, in my experience mostly due to not paying attention in class.

      Some of it is common sense but things like temperatures, as in cold enough and hot enough, hang up many who are new to the food service field.

      IF someone wants to learn this material it is not overwhelming. When you consider the state is also trying to get more fresh AK grown produce into our schools you have to ask what heck this woman is thinking!

      • Dagian says:

        She’s not thinking. She’s too busy seasoning your food with her dandruff and any flakes of nose gold that may have been deposited upon her fingers.

      • In Washington state to get a food handler’s permit you go in and read the manual and take the test. I think it’s even an open book test – they WANT you to pass it. Anyone who serves or handles food for the public has to take it. When we did Camp Fire events and wanted to serve things like nachos or food that had to be kept hot or cold, one of us had to have a food handlers’ permit. It’s not difficult. Maybe she’s too stupid or lazy to pass the test and that’s why she doesn’t want the reuglations.

  21. Mo says:

    Tammie wasn’t even elected, was she? Taking notes, Fairbanks voters?

    “FAIRBANKS – The governor has appointed Tammie Wilson to a vacancy in the state House of Representatives.

    Wilson will leave her post on the Borough Assembly to join the House, replacing John Coghill, who moved to the state Senate this fall.

    Gov. Sean Parnell chose Wilson over North Pole Mayor Doug Isaacson and former assembly member Mike Prax.

    Wilson, who narrowly lost a runoff for borough mayor early this month to Luke Hopkins, made a name at the municipal level during the past four years largely as a neighborhood and community organizer. She said she expects to run for a full term in the House, representing District 11, next year.”

    • InJuneau says:

      She was appointed in 2009. She won the seat on her own in the election of 2010. As with all reps, she’s up for reelection this year.

  22. The video captures alone should kill Wilson’s dangerous, silly bill. Well done, AKM.


  23. Mo says:

    Tammie never reads the news?

    In recent years, deaths resulting from the common stomach and intestinal illness known as gastroenteritis have more than doubled in the United States, a new report reveals.

    Infections involving one of two germs in particular — C. difficile or norovirus — seem to be driving the trend.

    Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that between 1999 and 2007 the total number of deaths resulting from the vomiting and diarrhea that characterizes the illness rose from about 7,000 to more than 17,000.

    And while C. difficile infections are more deadly, the team pointed out that the highly contagious norovirus is a major year-round public health threat in its own right. It is easily spread via contaminated food, water, surfaces and person-to-person contact, and has become especially notorious because of outbreaks on cruise ships. As a result, norovirus is now the number one cause of gastroenteritis illness (but not deaths) in the United States, with over 20 million infections thought to occur each year, the researchers said.

  24. laingirl says:

    Tammie deserves a bad case of food poisoning, and she might change her tune; it’s not fun. I’m also grossed out with her behavior, bill and beliefs. Visits to farmer’s markets are enjoyable, but I buy only vegetables and fruits that may be washed. I have a strong stomach, but I don’t care to take risks. We do not have enough food inspectors.

  25. Irishgirl says:

    OMG…the photos are priceless. That really says it all.

  26. Dagian says:


    Okay, I will confess to being incredibly annoyed with how many hoops people have to jump through in order to make cheese for sale to the public. SOME of those regulations are ABSURD.

    But honestly, someone is upset because they need to wash their hands in soap and water? Keep items properly refrigerated? Clean their equipment? Insist that there be documented sanitation procedures followed to minimize food-borne illness? The horror!

    Dear heavens, does she want to eat a fruit salad that someone has prepared following picking their nose without washing their hands, first? Double eww!

  27. juneaudream says:

    Lets hear it for another..perfect ‘send up’. a sword-of-truth..and that going to spend the rest of this day..creeping around..sorry she ever EVER..brought all that up. Multiply her little handy-excavations into those..and ..Other bodily parts..and I should imagine she we speak..saying I am so sorry..leave those regulations..intact! she walks away..from her previous..plan.

  28. merrycricket says:

    OK, now I am totally grossed out. I mean gag me with a dirty finger! Can’t wait for my own garden food to be ready. It’ll take me a minute to get over those pictures. Bleh!

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