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June 21, 2013

More citations given over temporary food permits in Floyd County

Health department to hear NABC appeal

NEW ALBANY — Four citations were handed out by the Floyd County Health Department Thursday to vendors that didn’t obtain a temporary food permit.

The citations were issued during the Exclusively New Albany event hosted by Develop New Albany. The annual celebration features samples and tastings from local restaurants.

The latest citations — which do not include a monetary fine — come after the New Albanian Brewing Co. announced this week it would appeal a citation it received for not having a temporary food permit to dispense beer.

NABC, River City Winery and The Irish Exit were cited at the June 14 concert at New Albany Bicentennial Park.

NABC co-owner Roger Baylor challenged the decision and said the health department is ignoring precedent by applying the temporary food permit to those serving only alcohol.

But Floyd County Health Officer Dr. Tom Harris said alcohol and food service fall under the umbrella of the permit.

“Basically this is a way to keep the public safe,” Harris said, as he added the department has licensed vendors for temporary permits for some time.

“We want people to have a good time at festivals. We don’t want them to get sick.”

The citations issued Thursday were for a mix of alcohol and food vendors, Harris said.

Earlier this week he said most vendors who are cited simply don’t realize they are required to obtain the temporary food permit, and Develop New Albany President Joe LaRocca said that was the case Thursday.

“Honestly we just didn’t know” the permits were required, LaRocca said Friday.

The organization doesn’t plan to challenge the citations and will make sure vendors are in compliance with health department regulations for future Develop New Albany events, he continued.

But Baylor said NABC has never obtained a temporary food permit for events it has served beer at, and he questioned why the health department is now enforcing the regulation for alcohol.

Baylor said alcohol sales are managed at the state level by the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, and that the health department is extending its control “to an area which it lacks coherent statutory authority.”

Baylor’s complaint is specific to requiring the permit for alcohol vendors, not groups selling food during festivals or one day events.

Harris maintains that the health department has the authority to require the permit for food and alcohol vendors, and that it has done so in the past.

“We actually go down on the first day of Harvest Homecoming and go through the food booths to make sure they’re compliant,” he said.

“These are reasonable, nominal charges.”

The cost for a temporary food permit is $20 per day. The price increases to $30 if a vendor fails to obtain the permit prior to the event and are cited by the health department.

A health department official said the fee and permit are included in the entity’s governing health ordinance.  

As for the appeal, Harris said they would hear Baylor’s case during the next health department board meeting.

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