Fourteen food vendors cited at block party

Chamber of Commerce foots bill

It started with a dead pig.

An eagle-eyed shopper at Draeger's Market in Menlo Park noticed a store employee wheeling around a dead pig in a shopping cart, snapped a photo, and called the county health inspectors.

Turns out, the pig was meant for a school dissection lab, and no violations were found, according to the county.

But, after wrapping up a visit to Draeger's on June 22, a health inspector noticed the Menlo Park Block Party down the street on Santa Cruz Avenue and decided to drop by.

Four hours and 14 citations later, vendors at the block party realized that they did indeed need a special event permit from the county to dispense food at the party. In addition, they needed hand-washing stations, gloves, covers for food, and other hygienic niceties.

Several vendors told the inspector the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce, co-sponsor of the block party, invited them to participate, but hadn't told them they needed permits, according to the inspection reports.

The vendors weren't fined this time. Instead, the chamber footed a $918 bill for the inspector's overtime.

Five mobile food trucks operating at the party did have current permits, the inspection report said.

Dean Peterson, the county's director of environmental health, said the fines can go as high as three times the cost of the permit, racking up $294 to $888 per booth, for a potential total of $12,432.

"We also have the authority to shut down their operation -- this option is rarely used unless the operation poses a risk to public health, i.e., no hand-washing equipment or food kept at unsafe temperatures, basically the same reason we would shut down any operation," he said in an email to the Almanac.

A similar event hosted by the chamber -- the Connoisseur's Marketplace -- hasn't had the same problems, Mr. Peterson noted.

The chamber's CEO, Fran Dehn, said the organization has an upcoming meeting with the county to discuss the issues, and had asked the county to bill it instead of the vendors. A copy of a letter sent to Ms. Dehn by the county indicates the chamber completed the application for a special event permit for the party on June 23, the day after the festivities.

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Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 16, 2011 at 10:13 am

"Fourteen food vendors cited at block party
It started with a dead pig at Draeger's Market. It ended with 14 citations -- not for Draeger's, but for food vendors at the June 22 Menlo Park Block Party. (Tuesday, 8:42 AM)"

Editor you might want to change this teaser which implies Draeger's did something terribly wrong. Perhaps "a dead pig meant for a school dissection lab" in the teaser would be more appropriate.

PS - glad it was a "dead" pig for dissection, a live one wouldn't have been very kosher, for the pig.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 16, 2011 at 10:16 am

"$918 bill for the inspector's overtime" - for how many hours?

What do these inspectors get paid?

Like this comment
Posted by Hmm
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2011 at 10:44 am

I agree w/Bon - the headline is misleading & can cause a negative rep for Draeger's.

Like this comment
Posted by Phil
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 16, 2011 at 12:32 pm

This occurred in June? So, it is a smear story. Old news.

Like this comment
Posted by Donna Largent
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 16, 2011 at 2:56 pm

As I drive around the entire community of Menlo and Atherton, I see these big shiny vans at construction sites selling primarily Mexican food. I have often wondered if they are legitimate and have permits and the cleanliness we should expect.

I would love to know how these "mom and pop" enterprises are regulated.


Donna Largent

Like this comment
Posted by Guest
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Donna, the catering trucks are licensed by county public health and subject to inspections and food handling requirements of the county. The ones at the street fair seem to have been licensed.

If you know the name of the company you can look them up at the county public health web site.

For example I looked up the catering truck Butterscotch on the Go. They are licensed and the county showed they have been inspected and show no violations.

Like this comment
Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2011 at 3:51 pm

How does the Chamber of Commerce get away with filing for a permit AFTER and event. You try it and see how far you get.

Like this comment
Posted by wap
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 17, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Government once again assessing fines and serving, in this case, a useless function. Wish they would butt out of our life.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Jun 5, 2017 at 6:25 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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