Legal Noodles

Food safety rules


Fresh Chinese rice noodles are delicate creatures. To maintain their smooth, springy texture, they must be stored at room temperature and eaten promptly. Refrigeration makes them crack and become soggy when cooked. But many states' food safety regulations ban traditional storage methods. California used to threaten fines and closure for companies that store noodles at temperatures between 41 degrees and 140 degrees.

But not anymore, thanks to legislation introduced by state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) that says "a food facility may sell Asian rice based noodles that have been kept at room temperature for no more than four hours." The measure was signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on September 29. Four hours at room temperature may not sound like much, but it's enough to keep a noodle culture legal and alive.

While the bill's author is of Chinese descent, the deliciousness of fresh rice noodles garnered support from officials of all ethnicities, including the Austrian-American Schwarzenegger, Mexican-American state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-San Fernando Valley), Japanese-American Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada (D-Davis), and Vietnamese-born Assemblyman Van Tran (R-Westminster).