The San Diego County Board of Supervisors adopted new rules Wednesday to regulate food served at local breweries, wineries and other businesses. The goal of the new rules, according to the county, is to decrease the potential of people getting sick with food-borne illnesses and to expand the definition of “catering.”
The board’s action will create two new types of permits: Breweries, wineries and other businesses who want to use caterers to provide their customers’ food will have to get “host facility” permits that ensure they have readily accessible sinks for food servers to clean utensils, equipment and their hands, as well as electricity, hot water and commercial bathrooms, according to county officials.
Caterers will be also be allowed to get “direct sales catering” permits that will expand the traditional definition of “catering” from just serving private affairs to being able to sell directly to the public. The permits will require caterers to have refrigeration and hand washing, according to the county.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob said the rules would be the first of their kind in California and would serve as a model ordinance for other counties and cities.
“(With) this ordinance our county will establish a lot more flexibility and opportunity for caterers, food vendors, wineries and breweries. In the end it’s going to help to support, and enhance and expand our local farm and ag-tourism efforts that (we) have been so excited about,” she said.
The ordinance is scheduled to be heard again by the board on Dec. 14 for a second reading and public hearing. The ordinance would then take effect in 30 days if the board approves.
The County’s Department of Environmental Health recommended the new rules after conducting a three-month pilot study of 25 catering events at 10 wineries, 13 breweries and two private functions. The board approved the study in May at Jacob’s recommendation.
Environmental health staff reported Wednesday that they saw three common problems during the study that could increase bacteria and the food-borne illnesses: They included food servers using ice coolers, which warm up when ice melts, rather than portable refrigerators, to try to keep cold foods safely chilled; and not having ready access to sinks to wash utensils, equipment and food-servers hands. The study found that less than one-half of food servers in the study had access to proper sinks.
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