The decrees sound as though they came from a 19th century shopkeeper.


Eggs must not show blood rings or have black, white or mixed rots, while labels for loaves of bread shall be printed in Lining Gothic No. 520 type.

On Monday, the City Council committee that oversees health issues voted to strike those antiquated items from the Minneapolis code, along with an old stipulation that all water be free from colon bacillus and other pathogenic bacteria.

No lobbyists from the bread, eggs and water industry came to declare their position on the rules.

Silence greeted Council Member Cam Gordon when he said, “I am going to then open the public hearing .. Is there anyone here who wishes to speak?”

As it turns out, thousands of loaves of bread have been unlawfully sold in Minneapolis because they do not weigh “one pound avoirdupois.” Just how much is hard to say, since city employees have not exercised their power to crack down on bakeries and seize illegally sized bread.

Meanwhile, restaurant cooks can breathe a little easier when they prepare their eggs Benedict during the Sunday brunch rush. The deleted ordinances include an admonition against selling “eggs which contain black rots, white rots, mixed rots (addled eggs, sour eggs with green white, eggs with stuck yolks, moldy eggs, musty eggs, eggs showing blood rings, eggs containing embryo chicks at or beyond the blood ring stage), or any other eggs that are filthy, decomposed or putrid shall be deemed to be inedible.”

Leading the effort to clean up the city code is rookie Council Member Andrew Johnson, who scours the document on his computer at the end of a long day in lieu of dozing off to TV reruns.

So far, his efforts have led to changes in a decades-old ban on polystyrene foam. Johnson is also moving to strike a requirement that people who want to own chickens, pigeons and other fowl obtain signatures from at least 80 percent of neighbors living within 100 feet of their home.

“Right now we have too many ordinances on the books which are confusing, don’t achieve their goals, and which frankly are a bunch of red tape and bureaucracy that get in the way of businesses,” said Johnson.

A computer programmer by trade, Johnson said he’s used to writing and cleaning up code that helps people work better, and “this is the code of our city … there’s lots of room to optimize it.”