Improvement Association Failure to Comply with Health Dept Requirements Leads to Health Dept Shutting Down Highland Riders Food Sale at Easter Egg Hunt

On April 16th, acting on an anonymous complaint, a Los Angeles County Health Department Environmental Health Specialist issued Official Notices of Violation to representatives of Highland Riders and the La Habra Heights Improvement Association for selling food without required permits at the Improvement Association's Annual Easter Egg Hunt.

LHHIA Violation Notice

Members of the Highland Riders, a community organization, were set up to sell coffee, donuts, chips and all beef hot dogs to raise money.

County Health Department Spokesperson Terrance Powell stated that they usually don't get involved in Easter Egg Hunts, but Staff did discover violations when investigating the complaint.

When asked if the city had any involvement with the County Health Dept enforcement action against the Improvement Association and/or Highland Riders, City Manager Shauna Clark responded by email, "By involvement, what do you mean? That encompasses a lot of area."

In responding to a later follow-up question asking if any City staff member had any communications with the County Health Dept prior to Saturday, April 16 regarding activities that would occur at the La Habra Heights Improvement Association 2011 Easter Egg Hunt, Ms. Clark said, "To my knowledge, no staff member had any discussions with the Health Department in regard to the Easter Egg Hunt prior to the day of the event. As the eggs were pre-packaged and individually wrapped candy, I doubt that staff would have considered the need for a health permit anymore than staff would expect people to get a health permit for handing out treats on Halloween."

Mr. Powell of the Los Angeles County Health Department said that they want to make sure food is handled safely so no one gets sick.

The department has a helpful flyer informing the public about the requirements for Food Booths at Community Events (see here).

In the case of a non-profit, there is no charge for the Public Health Permit. Both Highland Riders and the Improvement Association are non-profits.

The Norwalk office of the Department of Health said the permit requirement has been in place for many years.

Representatives from Highland Riders and the La Habra Heights Improvement Association were also issued Hearing Notices.

A hearing was held at 9:00 A.M. on Tuesday April 19th at the County Health Department District Office in Norwalk.

Mihye Shur, of the Norwalk office, said that no fines were imposed at the hearing and that the violators were made aware of and understood the requirements.

She also said that the sponsor of an event, in this case the La Habra Heights Improvement Association, is usually responsible for obtaining permits for themselves and making sure vendors do as well.

According to Health Dept documents,
"The sponsor or organizer of an event should submit an application and pay fees at least 30 days prior to the event. After the sponsor permit is approved food booth operators may submit booth applications and pay fees. "

The La Habra Heights Improvement Association has not yet responded to a request for comment made on April 19th.

See the actual Notices of Violation and Hearing Notices