By Amy Senk | Corona del Mar Today
Last summer, the Corona del Mar Farmers Market was in the doghouse, with county health inspectors issuing violations and holding a hearing because of the number of dogs they had seen.
But two followup inspections earlier this year have shown “substantial compliance,” said Mike Haller, program manager for the Orange County Environmental Health Agency’s Food Protection Program.
“Since there was substantial compliance, we will not pursue any further legal action,” Haller said in an email.
Last summer, an inspector visited the market and issued a notice of violation because of the number of dogs close to food stalls. A hearing was held on July 24, where they presented a slide show of the dog violations in the market.
At that hearing, market manager Rick Heil acknowledged the problem with dogs and offered suggestions about placing signs to help the problem.
In mid-January, an inspector visited and saw one dog in the market, Haller said.
“The owner was asked to remove the dog,” he said. “There were also no fliers for the manager to hand out addressing the dog issue, so a re-inspection was scheduled. A followup was conducted in early February. At that time the fliers were available and dogs were observed. That’s where we are at currently.”
If the market had been out of compliance during the inspector’s visit, the health department could have sent the violation notices to the District Attorney’s office for prosecution, and the market could have been closed permanently.
“The only way our assistant District Attorney would go any further with a case would be if the operator showed no signs of improvement,” Haller said. “Food facilities have a myriad of violations at any given time and we have to select the most egregious. In this case, the one dog and the willingness of the manager to improve and then they did for the re-inspection did not constitute further followup” until the next, routine visit.
The California Retail Food Code, which is modeled on the Food and Drug Administration’s food code, does not permit animals around food in retail establishments, Haller said. Dogs must be 20 feet away from farmers’ market food stalls.
Heil did not respond to a phone message and email seeking comment for this story.
Read the full story on Corona del Mar Today, here.