Health inspectors raidedÂ a hardware store in San Diego County over free popcorn they had handed out for 25 years.
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 â€” or so argue county officials. Last month, health inspectors raidedÂ La Jollaâ€™s Meanley & Son Hardware, warning that its old-fashioned red popcorn machine is a germy outlaw.
â€œThey explained we didnâ€™t have the proper permits,â€ said Bob Meanley, whose shop had handed out 30 to 40 bags every day for about 25 years.
According to theÂ 1984 California Uniform Retail Food Facility Law, the companyÂ 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 anonymousÂ tip from someone claiming that people were sticking their bare hands in there. This they claim could lead to a varietyÂ of differentÂ diseases they claim although to this day no cases of sickness have come from the Popcorn.
â€œBecause one guy complained,â€ said Joe Guiney, a regular customer at Meanley & Son, â€œit was ruined for everyone else.â€
â€œPeople are very upset,â€ said Cathy Jones, head cashier at Meanley & Son. â€œEven if they didnâ€™t eat the popcorn, they appreciated the aroma.â€
Another customer called out regulation for ruining traditionsÂ in communities.