10 • 01 • 2021

Clean up the Oregon Health Code

A campaign to promote reusables in Oregon's Food Safety Code

Surfrider Oregon Chapters are leading an effort, with environmental and business allies, to help Oregon’s Department of Agriculture update Oregon’s Health Code to allow for use of reusable produce bags and bulk containers by consumers in retail establishments.

For a waste-conscious consumer, there can be a lot of confusion in the grocery store about what the rules are for reusable containers and bags. While the current code doesn’t support reuse, it’s also not routinely enforced and different establishments tend to observe the rules at varying degrees – more on this ongoing saga here. As an obvious place to cut down on single use plastic, all that’s needed is a path put in place by the code that establishes safe, hygienic practices.

Surfrider is bringing the issues of inconsistency and unnecessary waste to the Food Safety Advisory Committee within the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA). From there, the ODA is considering making a subcommittee that can amend rules 3.304-17 & 4-603.17 which explicitly define and set forth rules for allowable reusable and refillable containers and how to refill returnables. 

UPDATE: 12/5/2022 - Following a year of successful advocacy to ODA's Food Safety Advisory Committee, the agency has drafted an updated rule that would allow for reusables food containers to be utlized in retail establishements. The updated rule will be open to public comment on January 04, 2023. In addition, Surfrider Foundation staff has been working with Senator Sollman's office (D15) to also draft a bill for the 2023 legislature which would further reinforce the new rule and extend reusables to restaurants and take-out.

Plastic Pollution