Single Mom Faces Jail Time After Participating in Facebook Food Group

Fox40 Sacramento:

Single Mom Faces Jail Time After Participating in Facebook Food Group

STOCKTON – A Stockton woman faces an impending trial and potential jail time after she joined a social media community food group, and sold some of the meals she cooked, which county San Joaquin County officials say is against the law.Mariza Reulas was cited by San Joaquin County for selling an illegal substance, but it wasn’t a powder, a pill or a plant. It was her bowl of homemade ceviche.
"It was just like unreal that they were saying you could face up to a year in jail,” said Reulas.
A few years ago Reulas joined a Facebook group called 209 Food Spot – a forum she says, where people from the Stockton area shared recipes, organized potlucks and occasionally sold what they cooked.
“Somebody would be like, ‘Oh I don’t have anything to trade you but I would love to buy a plate,’ like they’d be off of work.”

On December 3 of last year, someone contacted Reulas, asking for a plate of her Ceviche –- one of her signature dishes. That person was an undercover investigator from San Joaquin County, according to court documents, on a sting because the majority of 209 Food Spot members didn’t have permits to sell their food.
She, along with about a dozen others, was cited for two misdemeanors for operating a food facility and engaging in business without a permit.
Reulas refused to plea down to three years of probation. Now the single mother of six is headed to trial and could end up in jail.
"I don’t write the laws, I enforce them. And the legislature has felt that this is a crime,” said San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Kelly McDaniel. She says selling any food not subject to health department inspection puts whoever eats it in real danger, not to mention it undercuts business owners who do get permits to make their food.

Thank God the gov’t is protecting us!

She’s not facing charges because of participation in a FB group, but because she isn’t licensed to cook and sell food. I don’t know why you would by food to serve to your family from some stranger on FB to me that’s nuts.

I like how they had a sting operation. That is exactly what I expect from government. You can’t do anything in the US, other than vote, without a license.

For the most part anytime you buy food, prepared or otherwise, it is from a stranger. I don’t know the folks working at most restaurants. I don’t know most of the folks working at the grocery store. I don’t know any of the folks supplying food to either. We mostly conduct business with strangers. We rely on reputation to hopefully sort out the bad actors. I get how it might seem odd to buy food on Facebook but really it isn’t. You can probably get better direct knowledge of such a person then you can many other situations where you buy food.

Be that as it may, if it is a risk you are willing to take then it’s on you; no one else.

Besides, you would think the Police would have more important things to worry about.

I went into a well known fast food place and ordered a chicken sandwich and while preparing the bun, the cook was picking his nose. I reported it, got my money back and I walked out. NEVER to return! So much for strangers. God Bless, Memaw

:tsktsk: The government always deserves a cut

I disagree I as I see it you can get much better information on local purveyors than you can on some anonymous internet food seller. You can watch them, see the conditions of the business, and look at health inspection records. You can ask people you know about their experience, I know one person who will not, after working at a local grocery store, ever buy anything from the deli there, they will only buy food that is take nhome and cooked. They explained why and now I have told my whole family NOT to ever buy deli goods for my mom there, she’s quite elderly and the last thing she needs is salmonella.

You can sometimes get more information. You can sometimes see them preparing the food, but even then there is a lot you can’t see. Health inspections tell you something but aren’t a guarantee. They are a complex issue, at least in my state.

I’ve worked in a high end restaurant. A lot of the cooks were people who you wouldn’t trust too much. There was a lot of drug use by the wait staff. I’ve also worked at a place that prepared holiday foods. Some people if I told them my experience may not want to eat that food. I think if you really knew more about what went into making food you’d realize the story you heard isn’t some oddity. The reality is the vast majority of food is safe despite what actually goes on behind the scenes.

This “social group” probably trusted her enough to buy food from her. She wasn’t a total stranger.

People can get sick preparing their own food.

This is a ridiculous waste of tax-payer money and unnecessary stress for that woman.

This is not the kind of government bureaucracy we want or need.

I agree its nuts to buy food from a stranger on Facebook but I don’t think it should be illegal. If someone is comfortable doing so then that is on them.

Although I agree with most of what you said, the one reason I can see refraining from purchasing food from an unlicensed individual is that at least when one buys through a licensed business you have a means to address problems in the services you received and much easier to get compensation for unintended results.

I’m a cop, and I actually agree with you. While there are some instances where offering a service without a license can be a legitimate issue, I hardly think that this is the type of incident to which we should be devoting our resources. Granted there could be more information than what was reported to the public, which there often is, (i.e. several members of this food club have been found to be using it as a front to sell drugs, there was a recent death from someone’s purchase of unregulated goods, etc…) but absent that, this is a waste of time.

As a consolation to some who are upset, the fact that she could face a year in jail doesn’t mean that she will. Here in NY there are a ton of lower level crimes that could theoretically lead to a year in jail, but most often they are either plead out to a lesser offense or given an ACOD (Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal- basically, don’t get in trouble for another year and the charge disappears from your record). As a point of comparison, here even speeding can get you 15 days in jail, but I cannot think of a single example of it’s actually having happened.

I think she was smart to go to trial. If I were on the jury, she’d walk.

But then, in a state/city where the government aids and abets the violation of immigration laws on a massive scale-- I believe in amnesty for everyone.

Yukk and well done.I never buy street food even when they have been checked by our HSE and almost never buy prepared food anywhere…

. . . :bible1: . . .
“And every man
that striveth for the mastery is
in all things.”
- 1 Corinthians 9:25

+A simple . . . *kind and just *. . . official legal educational warning . . . to the food group that they were breaking the law . . . just might . . . have done so much more good . . . as a first step . . . ? . . . in helping to see that the law was well served in this instance . . . and saved much grief and much expense of the taxpayer’s money . . . and saved lots of perhaps avoidable trouble and legal work for lots of people on both sides of the law . . . and their whole community . . .

An undercover sting! Seems like a ridiculous over-reaction to something that could have been handled so much better with common sense and good-old-fasioned understanding of the . . . probable ignorance . . . of most . . . if not all . . . of those home cooks they targeted for the sting . . .

In this instance . . . it appears like . . .the authorities were somewhat sadly lacking in good sense and community spirit . . . . . . just maybe . . .

Even someone breaking the speed law on our dangerous highways . . . in certain instances . . . can deserve and receive just a . . . “warning” . . . before being sited and hauled into court!

I always enjoyed the reruns of the old . . . decades long running . . . Andy Griffith TV show . . . and his character as a sheriff’s way of . . . wisely . . . caring for his community . . . type of . . . “sheriffing” . . . and how he had to often . . . temper . . . his over-zealous-at-times deputy’s . . . “over-reach” . . . when he got a bit drunk on the legal power of his position as a law officer . . .

[RIGHT]. . . all for Jesus+[/RIGHT]

Especially here in WA! I swear everything is taxed more than in other states. I used to sell homemade bread at the farmer’s market. There was an exemption for baked goods, but for everything else one had to have a separate, dedicated kitchen with it’s own toilet area. And, of course, inspections & licenses.

I think they took away the baked good exemption some years ago, after I stopped baking.

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