SIMCOE, APRIL 17, 2015 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU) has successfully charged an out-of-area special event food vendor for failing to notify the Medical Officer of Health of their intention to commence operation of a food premise in Norfolk County. This vendor was found operating at the Port Dover Friday the 13th event in June of 2014 without the HNHU’s approval. On March 26, 2015, the vendor pled guilty in Simcoe’s Provincial Offences Court, resulting in a fine of $930, which includes court costs and the victim fine surcharge.
“We would like to remind anyone intending to serve food to the public within Haldimand and Norfolk that they must obtain our approval before doing so” explains Adrienne Andrew, Environmental Health Team Program Manager of the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. “While we encourage new business in our community, we also have to make sure anyone serving food to the public is handling it in a safe manner. We are really only asking that special event food vendors and those opening food premises consult us before operating” adds Andrew. Currently, all special event food vendors in the HNHU’s jurisdiction are required to obtain approval from the health unit prior to operation at a special event where food and drink are to be served to the public. The approval process involves completing the HNHU Food Providers Application Package for Special Events, which can be found at http://hnhu.org/forms. The application is then reviewed by a Public Health Inspector and the vendor is consulted regarding their food handling practices to determine their approval. Once a vendor has been approved, a Temporary Food Establishment Special Event permit will be issued that is to be posted prominently during the special event.
“Notifying the local health unit of intention to operate a food premise including those at special events is required by law under the Health Protection and Promotion Act” explains Andrew. “This notification also offers operators a chance to consult us and understand our requirements before choosing food sources, constructing a food premise and setting up their food processing. We don’t enjoy having to make operators renovate a newly built premise to meet provincial requirements because they failed to consult us prior to construction” adds Andrew. There is no fee attached to notifying the HNHU of intention to commence operation of a public food premise but failure to do so can result in a court summons with fines of up to $5,000 for an individual, or up to $25,000 for a corporation.
Unfortunately, as Andrew explains, the HNHU is also at a disadvantage due to the lack of a Business Licence requirement for fixed food premises in both Haldimand and Norfolk counties, “Without a formal process in place where health agencies can be notified of premises operating in their jurisdiction, the public’s health and safety can be jeopardized. Being responsible for ensuring food and water offered to the public is safe, we’ve been left with having our inspectors drive up and down concessions to see if any new food premises and small drinking water systems have popped up without our knowledge. Food premises unknown to the HNHU will cause inaccuracies in our inventory, resulting in premises that have not been inspected for provincial health requirements.” It should be noted that transient and mobile food premises do require a Business Licence to operate in Haldimand and Norfolk counties.
“We are sympathetic to the pressures and sometimes cumbersome paperwork that comes with being a food premise operator but the public’s health and safety will always be our priority” explains Andrew. “Giving us a phone call or visiting our website can go a long way towards avoiding costly renovations and fines” she adds.
More information regarding HNHU requirements for providing food at public special events and opening a food premise in Haldimand County and Norfolk County can be found online at www.hnhu.org, or by calling 519-426-6170 or 905-318-5367.
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Program Manager, Environmental Health Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3216 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623