Legislature Serves Up Bad Recipe for Innovation Economy
Recently, a friend of mine told me how much she and her husband enjoyed subscribing to a home meal prep delivery service.
Instead of having to go to the grocery story, they deliver all the fresh ingredients you need to make a gourmet recipe right to your doorstep. She suggested that I try it out and sent me a coupon code to try it.
Since then, I’ve tried out a few of the different meal services. While I consider myself a pretty good cook, I enjoyed making fennel-spiced steaks or summer vegetable paella, recipes that I probably wouldn’t have tackled if all the correctly-measured ingredients weren’t delivered to my doorstep.
Meal prep delivery services are the type of innovation company that we should be celebrating in California. Instead of applauding them, the California Legislature is trying to regulate them.
Their competition got a friendly lawmaker to introduce Assembly Bill 1461. It would impose new food handler card requirements on meal prep delivery services. The bill recently passed the Legislature and sitting on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.
Proponents argue that new regulations are needed to ensure food safety, but that’s just a ruse. AB 1461 is really about state government trying to pick winners and losers. Just as the taxi industry has tried to get the Legislature to thwart ride-sharing companies, grocery stores and their unions are trying to do the same to meal prep services.
This scenario has happened many times before. It’s like watching the movie “Groundhog Day.” An innovative company becomes successful. The status quo, usually the competition, goes to their legislator friends seeking new roadblocks to tamp down their success. We’ve seen this happen in recent years as ride sharing, home sharing, and other sharing economy disruptors have been targeted.
The Sacramento Bee editorial board said it best about AB 1461, questioning whether “the United Food and Commercial Workers should dictate health policy.”
The California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce said of the bill that “innovative companies are rethinking how to connect with customers, including how to grocery shop and cook at home, and that this creative thinking has been the hallmark of California, which we should be promoting, not squashing.”
Governor Brown ought to sign up for one of these home meal prep delivery services before deciding on AB 1461. Once he makes a gourmet meal like katsu-style eggplant at home, he’ll hopefully realize that California’s spirit of innovation and creativity should always be what’s for dinner in the Golden State.
Tim Anaya is the communications director for Pacific Research Institute.