Food Freedom

Good News! The Benevolent State of California Will Let You Have Proper Vietnamese Rice Cakes

Yes, it takes a bill to allow the food to be sold at the appropriate temperature.


Banh Chung
Cathy Chaplin | / CC BY-ND

Assuming California Gov. Jerry Brown signs SB969, it will become legal for citizens of the state to buy and consume Vietnamese rice cakes as they were intended—at room temperature.

Vietnamese rice cakes (called banh chung or banh tet) are steamed foods made with rice, beans, and meat or fruit, wrapped tightly in a banana leaf and cooked. They're associated with the Vietnamese New Year and are intended to be served at room temperature.

Oh, no: cooked food served at room temperature. Yes, this is a problem in California. Safety issues, people! What if somebody gets sick? In California, the food is supposed to be sold refrigerated, which apparently ruins it.

California law currently permits Korean rice cakes (which are completely different) to be sold at room temperature, but they can only be for sale for 24 hours and then must be disposed of. SB969 would add Vietnamese rice cakes to the same rules. So food shops will be able to make the cakes (which take hours of cooking by the way), and sell them for 24 hours. Anything they don't sell during that time must be tossed. There's also a label requirement to both indicate the time and date of food prep and to warn that the cake must be consumed within 24 hours.

The legislation passed in a flurry of activity this week as the end of the legislative session approaches. State lawmakers acted on hundreds of bills, advancing some, amending some, and tabling others.

Some of the other legislation passed included some streamlining of the environmental review process for developers, but only if they're really big ones like sports arenas. Anybody else trying to build anything in the state is going to have to just suck it up and plan for the inevitable lawsuits.

There's good news in the bills that died, too. A bill attempting to increase penalties for the opioid drug fentanyl to put it on par with heroin and cocaine died. On the other hand, also killed off were bills to give whistleblower protections for employees of lawmakers, a bill that gave tax breaks for Olympic medals, and a bill that would give parents more leeway to transfer their children to other school districts.

Legislators have until the end of August to pass whatever they're going to pass. The Los Angeles Times is keeping up with some of the other major proposals here.

Related: Today I seem to be blogging about food safety meddling. Some poor woman in Texas who is among one of probably hundreds of people selling tamales without a proper permit, got handed a massive fine by her home town. Also, check Reason out Saturday morning for a piece by food writer Baylen Linnekin about how government regulations (like the ones above) contribute to food waste.

NEXT: Attn, Seattle-Area Reasonoids: Meet Reason's John Tamny on 8/18

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  1. The recipe makes those things sound as unappealing as the Golden State itself.

      1. Gabriel . I just agree… Kathryn `s st0rry is good, last monday I got a great new BMW 5-series from having made $6k this past five weeks and-over, ten k lass-month . no-doubt about it, this really is the most rewarding I have ever had . I started this 6 months ago and practically straight away began to earn at least $87, p/h . see it here >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  2. You know what other dish is best served cold?

    1. Shackford’s alt-text?

      Seriously, look at the beauty above!

      1. Take it back and heat it up!

        /Arnold Rimmer, B.S.C.

      2. Korean noodles?

    2. Beer (as in “beer hall”)?

    3. Pizza?

      1. That’s… I… ugh.

  3. Related: Today I seem to be blogging about food safety meddling.

    Torn between the “gay cakes” comment, and “take more blogging territory, then you take more power, then you supplant KMW and become the Basileus” comment….

    Let’s go with usurpation! Make 2017 the Year of Four Editors!

    1. 69, dude!

      (And I see Wikipedia is still using “A.D.,” not that “C.E.” crap.

      1. Yes, but it now stands for “Anal Destruction”.

        1. You made a joke… and one that wasn’t half bad. Bravo!

      2. What I find hilarious about “CE” thing is that this is what I was taught in school, because we were nominally a Marxist country.

        So things were either PNE – Before Common/Our Era (I heard both, and they start with same letter) or NE – New/Our Era.

        So well done on copying Soviet-inspired education. Maybe up next, consider adopting streaming, world history or classical music?

        1. Nah. I think Lysenkoism is up next.

        2. While I prefer C.E., I don’t find any of the arguments for it particularly compelling. Arbitrary start point is still the same, it doesn’t really describe what it purports to describe (the ‘current era’ is either much shorter or much longer than 2000ish years depending on how you define ‘current’) and giving it a new name doesn’t change anything worth changing. And I don’t find anything wrong in commemorating the social and historical forces that have shaped the modern day.

          Its not like people are going to reject rationalism is you use B.C. or A.D. – and, IMO, they’re more likely to *reject* it as being forced on them when you make pointless little changes like this.

          1. As arbitrary as a starting point is, describing what it starts seems perfectly reasonable. BC/AD accurately described the arbitrary starting point of the ‘birth/death’ of Jesus Christ. Trying to still call that the starting point but obscuring why we start it there is just some kind of empty posturing.

            1. Another corny thing about the attempts to phase out BC is that there is religious stuff baked into our language in ways we probably don’t even know about. For example, “goodbye” started out as an abbreviation for “God be with you”. And even devout atheists will be caught saying “God damnit” or “I hope to God that…”

              They’ll never be successful in scrubbing any religious influence from our language; it’s stupid to even try.

        3. Yeah, East Germany – before the walls fell – is the only time I’ve seen that practice “in the wild”.

  4. The chocolate ration has been increased, yay!

  5. Dammit, Scott, how am I supposed to consign you to the outer reaches of Cosmoproggiestan if you post articles like this?

    1. If Dostoevsky is anything to go by, a short spell of banishment in outer reaches does wonders for one’s writing quality.

  6. Isn’t bread cooked? Cereal, cupcakes, cookies, etc, etc.

    1. But those aren’t weird foreign foods cooked by weird foreigners and sold to unsuspecting Americans.

      1. Yeah, ’cause no-one who orders food from a Vietnamese vendor/stall/restaurant has any idea at all what they’re getting themselves in to.

        Seriously, The Benevolent State of California? can lick my love pump. (I’m sure my home province of B.C. will be copycatting this idiotic idea just as fast as the speed of light will allow…)

  7. RE: Good News! The Benevolent State of California Will Let You Have Proper Vietnamese Rice Cakes

    The State of Kalifornia has shown it benevolence by allowing the little people to eat rice cakes. Isn’t that nice of them? Without such permission, the plebian class now has a choice of what to eat along with grass, moss, tree bark and worms, providing of course the worms are not an endangered species. Such kindness and generosity of the ruling elites in Sacramento will be welcomed with hosannas and kudos from everyone in the state. It has also been rumored that he ruling elites enslaving Kalifornians will allow the lowly plebian class to get three hours of sleep and walk upright in a few more years.
    Isn’t that nice of them?

    1. Thanks to the government, The People can now eat traditional rice cakes! Three cheers for the government! Without their wise policies, The People would be at the mercy of the free market and would surely be left without this delicacy!

  8. I don’t understand what gives the government the right to regulate the production processes of food sold to the public when members of the public are free to cook food however they want in their own home or serve that food to guests who are not paying any money for it.

    Why aren’t they busting into your home and checking the temperature of your Sunday roast or inspecting the leftovers in your fridge for clearly labelled “use by” dates? (I know, I know, don’t give them any ideas…)

    My axiom is: if you can do something to yourself or another person for free, it shouldn’t be illegal to do it for another person in exchange for money.

    1. “Why aren’t they busting into your home and checking the temperature of your Sunday roast or inspecting the leftovers in your fridge for clearly labelled “use by” dates? (I know, I know, don’t give them any ideas…)”

      They don’t need you to give them ideas. I think England is doing this already.

      1. I suppose in the future, private production of food by both businesses and individuals will be banned. We’ll just line up in our local government soup line for our daily rations of Michelle Obama’s Nutri-Gruel.

  9. Aren’t most baked goods, from our daily bread to cookies, cooked and then served at room temperature? Why is this different?

    1. Not ones with meat in them

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