Mom's apple pie illegal at Pennsylvania potlucks

Pity the poor health department inspector; no-one notices him until people come down with food poisoning. It should come as no surprise, then, that they snap sometimes and go overboard . They really went overboard at a Catholic Church dinner in Rochester, PA when they declared the home-made pies donated by parishioners to serve at the Lenten fish-fry illegal.

The inspector pointed out that a state law requires that any food served at a facility that hosts more than three food events a year has to be prepared in a state-inspected kitchen. The inevitable uproar has sparked calls for a change in the law. Meanwhile other churches continue to serve these pirate pies. The most disturbing part of this story, though, is
the report that churches are now squealing on one another to the state, not a very ecumenical way to act during the season of Lent.

State health regulations covering home-prepared foods aren't uncommon. For example, Ohio offers a home bakery license for $10 a year, pending an inspection by the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Food Safety people. However, few health departments normally take the time and headache to bust church dinners and the like for minor transgressions. Since this inspector's boss told the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) that the department had cited only one church since 2006, I have to believe that this inspector must have had an agenda. Perhaps he had been chewed out at work earlier that day for lax enforcement, or was fighting a losing battle with his waistline.

Either way, requiring even an inexpensive license and inspection is enough to convince some home-bakers to quit donating their pies for fundraisers. And that would be a shame, because the world can always use more good pies.
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