Health Inspectors raid Hardware store over free popcorn, ends 25-year tradition

Health inspectors raided a hardware store in San Diego County over free popcorn they had handed out for 25 years.

San Diego Tribune: 

Around San Diego County, a hot, salty, buttered controversy has popped up.

Should hardware stores offer free bags of freshly popped popcorn?

While that may look like a warm, welcoming treat, free popcorn is a threat to public health — or so argue county officials. Last month, health inspectors raided La Jolla’s Meanley & Son Hardware, warning that its old-fashioned red popcorn machine is a germy outlaw.

“They explained we didn’t have the proper permits,” said Bob Meanley, whose shop had handed out 30 to 40 bags every day for about 25 years.

According to the 1984 California Uniform Retail Food Facility Law, the company Meanley & Son would need to install a three-basin sink to clean and sterilize the popcorn popper. They’d also need to have regular inspections like a restaurant. The reason for the inspection was due to an anonymous tip from someone claiming that people were sticking their bare hands in there. This they claim could lead to a variety of different diseases they claim although to this day no cases of sickness have come from the Popcorn.

“Because one guy complained,” said Joe Guiney, a regular customer at Meanley & Son, “it was ruined for everyone else.”

“People are very upset,” said Cathy Jones, head cashier at Meanley & Son. “Even if they didn’t eat the popcorn, they appreciated the aroma.”

Another customer called out regulation for ruining traditions in communities.

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