The Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District said they are experiencing a large influx of calls in regards to illegal food sales on social media sites like Facebook.
With the holiday season approaching, it is becoming increasingly common to find individuals selling plate meals, tamales, and other food without a permit. We have also received complaints from individuals who have gotten sick following the consumption of this food.
The Health District reminds citizens that it is illegal to provide food to the public unless the food is prepared in a permitted and inspected kitchen even if you are not accepting money for the food. If you would like to sell or provide food to the public, there are a few ways that you can do that:
- Get a temporary event permit from the Health District. A temporary event permit allows for the distribution of food made at the event location. An example of a temporary event is a hamburger feed fundraiser.
- Obtain a state manufactured food license. This is the license needed to prepare and package foods to be sold from a retail food establishment. An example of manufactured food would be canned salsa. More information about the manufactured food license.
The only exception to the law is the cottage food operation. You must have a food handler’s card, but you may sell certain non-potentially hazardous food, such as cakes and pastries that do not require refrigeration for safety, that are prepared in your home. Your items must be labeled that they are prepared in a kitchen that is not inspected. A list of foods allowed to be sold by a cottage food operation as well as further explanation of the cottage food law can be found here.
The Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District’s Environmental Health Division will continue to try to take enforcement action against those who are selling food illegally. This food is not inspected; there is no assurance that it was cooked and held at the proper temperatures, or prepared in a sanitary environment. We urge the public to not purchase and consume those food items that are sold illegally.
CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans get sick and 3,000 dies of foodborne diseases. Most people attribute food poisoning to the last commercial food establishment they ate prior to getting sick, but that is often not the case. Most foodborne illnesses have a 24 to 48-hour incubation period before symptoms arise and some can even have incubation periods of a few months.
If you believe you have contracted food poisoning:
- Immediately write down a three-day food history that includes everything you consumed, including those items you prepared yourself and drinks.
- Go to the doctor. A food poisoning diagnosis is confirmed via a stool sample.
- If you have confirmed food poisoning, your doctor will contact the Health District and a foodborne illness investigation will be started, this is where the three-day food history becomes very important.