Residents Warned Of Home Food Sales

“Where’s The Beef”? may not be the question you should ask the door-to-door salesman or the operator of the box truck sitting in a parking lot along a main highway.

A better question would be, “Where’s is your food permit from the Jackson County Health Department”?

Reports have been received in the Health Department of individuals selling food items at “great” prices in Seymour and around Jackson County.  Most door to door food sales are not permitted in Jackson County with the exception of Schwan’s Home Service.

In the interest of public health, food vendors must obtain and display a current Jackson County Health Department Retail Food Permit and have routine inspections. “There are no ‘blanket’ food permits issued from the State of Indiana that a food vendor may obtain,” said Whitney Kovener, food safety specialist with the Jackson County Health Department. All permits are issued on a county-by-county basis to conduct business within that county.

“If a vendor cannot produce a current permit, chances are the Health Department has no record of them,” said Kovener. “And, if the Health Department has no record of them, the questions you should consider are, has the product come from an approved source and is it safe for human consumption.”

Just looking at the product may be deceiving; most pathogens that cause food borne illnesses may not be detected by sight, smell, taste or touch. Refrozen foods will have ice crystal formations and should not be sold, purchased and must be discarded.

Unapproved food sources raise many questions, such as

•Has this product been kept within the required temperature range from delivery to your doorstep?

•Has the integrity of this produce been altered or compromised in any way?

•Was this food part of a recall?

•Who do I contact if a problem arises?

•Do I trust these people and know where they come from?

•Is this company legitimate?

Indiana State Food Code requires that “food shall be obtained from sources that comply with all local laws at least equivalent to Indiana law”. Jackson County has an adopted the Indiana State Food Code that requires any business or individual providing food products to the general public, pass an inspection and be permitted by the Health Department.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Seymour Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies assist the Health Department in identifying and locating these vendors. “At the current time, if such a vendor is found to not have received a permit, they are informed about the process to receive one and then escorted out of Jackson County,” said Kovener.

As part of its mission, health departments are charged with enforcing laws and regulations that protect the health and safety of its citizens. “We are depending on the Jackson County citizens to assist their Health Department put an end to this potentially hazardous and illegal practice,” Kovener said.