Organic food stores and restaurants in New England have become a battleground in the state’s legislative battle over whether to allow frozen foods, including organic baby food, to be sold in grocery stores and at food trucks.
Organic Food, a small food-delivery company that recently launched a truck in Burlington, Vermont, is part of a coalition of retailers and restaurants that want to keep the option open.
The Vermont Food Truck Alliance, a coalition that includes food-distribution companies, has opposed the idea.
Organo Foods, the largest grocery chain in the United States, said last week it is considering relocating its headquarters to a more rural location in rural Maine, where it already has a distribution center.
A spokeswoman for the company said the decision was made after consulting with local officials and stakeholders.
Organos has a presence in Boston, but its parent company, Kellogg Co., has said that it wants to remain in Maine.
In the meantime, the trucking and food-service companies are seeking to have the Maine Legislature consider the trucks in their districts.
They are asking lawmakers to ban sales of the trucks and impose fines on drivers who run them.
In Massachusetts, lawmakers have held a series of hearings on the issue, with some of them focused on whether a trucker can be charged with a crime if he or she takes delivery of frozen food in a food-truck, or a person who drives a truck and packages and delivers frozen food to people who have paid for it.
The trucking companies and their allies have said that the law would allow for more truck drivers to be hired, and that such drivers would be protected from liability for a variety of other offenses.
The issue has drawn support from consumer groups and retailers, but has also generated backlash from some lawmakers who said they were worried about increasing crime and creating new dangers to people.
“We are all about public safety and safety of the people in the communities we serve,” said Rep. Mike Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, who chairs the House Transportation Committee.
“If you are driving a truck that delivers food to a customer who has paid, you need to have your license in good standing, and you need the same protections for the people who are doing the delivery.
It would be difficult for me to say no to this.”
A number of Maine lawmakers are on the board of the Food Truck Association of America, which has endorsed the proposal.
The group has also called for more inspections on trucks.
The association says it has more than 700 members, including many members of the House transportation committee.
State Representative Lisa Dube, a Republican who represents Portland, said that her concern is about the safety of her constituents and her community.
“My concern is for people who want to live and work in Portland, who want their kids to be able to get to school, and who want this to be a healthy, safe, healthy place for them to be,” she said.