Health officials detail lemonade sale laws, respond

Published: Jun. 11, 2015 at 7:54 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 12, 2015 at 1:31 AM CDT
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OVERTON, TX (KLTV) - In the days since we reported about the Overton girls who had their lemonade stand shut down by police because they didn't have a permit, there have been a lot of questions about the laws that require a permit to sell lemonade.

Smith County's Interim Director for Environmental Safety, Ginger Wood, explained to KLTV that prior to 2011, an inspection and permit were required for all retail food. That is defined as any place that vends food, or offers food to the public.

With the passage of Cottage Food Production Laws, those regulations were relaxed for people selling many things cooked in the home.

Wood explains the passage of the law was "to allow cakes and cookies, breads and things to be sold from the house."

Not everything is covered, though.

"Non-potentially hazardous foods or foods that do not require time or temperature control to keep them safe," are not included in the Cottage Food Laws, according to Wood. "Beverages still are not on that list, because of the high water content. It's an open food product, it just has not made it to the Cottage Food Laws at this time."

Wood says there is a provision in state food regulations that give some discretion to local health departments.

"If they prove that a hazard does not exist, they can waive certain provisions of the code to allow for different things."

Wood says their job is about safety.

"We want the kiddos to be safe as much as we want our food to be safe."

Sometime, though, safety can be more about education than regulation.

"We'd love to stop and talk to them. Not necessarily tell them they can't serve, but to educate them about proper hand washing, about the source of their food product and keeping it safe," Wood says.

You can learn more about Cottage Food Regulations here.

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