Legislators rise against
bread that’s flash frozen

Frozen bread is worrying state legislators.

Noting that it is a common industry practice to flash freeze bread baked on the mainland before it is shipped to Hawaii, lawmakers want to require that supermarkets post a sign telling consumers when bread has been frozen and then thawed.


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House Bill 332 was introduced by Rep. Roy Takumi (D, Pearl City-Pacific Palisades) and steered through the Senate by Sen. Roz Baker (D, Honokohau-Makena).

"I didn't realize that it was a common practice to flash freeze all the bread. Everybody just assumes it is fresh," Baker said. "It is for consumer disclosure; you see it in a store and you think it is fresh."

The bill has won tentative approval in the House and Senate, but minor disagreements will force it into a conference committee. The five Republicans in the Senate have been the only legislators to object to the bread bill.

Officials from major supermarkets and baked products distributors in Hawaii, including Times, Safeway and the Hawaii Food Industry Association, testified against the bill.

Sen. Gordon Trimble (R, Downtown-Waikiki) argued that if frozen bread didn't worry the federal government, there was no need for the state of Hawaii to get involved.

"We have two federal agencies, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that have a federal mandate to protect the quality and safety of our food products.

"Neither of them have seen fit to regulate bread in this manner. If the federal agencies see no problem, why should we?" Trimble said.

Others, however, see the freshness of mainland bread as a quality issue.

Adam Long, owner of Great Harvest Bakery, said fresh bread tastes better and probably has more vitamins in it.

"The flavor is the No. 1 difference; it is more intense in fresh bread," Long said. "It is definitely a point of contention for the small mom-and-pop bakeries in comparison to the plants on the mainland."

Dick Botti, representing the Hawaii Food Industry Association, said the practice of freezing the baked goods preserves them during shipping to Hawaii.

"It is the most effective, least costly way to get the best product to the consumer," Botti said.

The bill calls for a sign to be placed near the display of previously frozen and thawed baked goods to "inform purchasers of the common practice to flash freeze baked goods to preserve freshness."

The seller would also have to list on the sign all previously frozen and thawed baked goods and would not be allowed "to use the term 'fresh' in a baked good's label unless the baked good has been maintained in an unfrozen state."

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