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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: December 5, 2014 10:48 AM
From: Senator Michele Brooks
To: All Senate members
Subject: Charitable Non-Profit Food Facilities
In the near future, I plan on introducing legislation amending the licensing requirements of retail food facilities. In 2010, the General Assembly made changes to our existing food safety laws. The former 1945 Public Eating and Drinking Place Law defined a “public eating or drinking place" as “a place within this Commonwealth where food or drink is served to or provided for the public, with or without charge. The term does not include dining cars operated by a railroad company in interstate commerce or a bed and breakfast homestead or inn.” The new Chapter 57, Subchapter A in our Agriculture Code (Title 3), which replaces the 1945 law, uses the same definition.

As such, even non-profit organizations that provide food to the public are required to be licensed and inspected by the licensor with jurisdiction. The new provisions of the law grant authority to a licensor to exempt retail food facilities from licensing if they operate on no more than three days per year. The new law also grants a licensor the authority to exempt from licensing retail food facilities owned by churches and those owned by charitable non-profit entities and managed by organizations that encourage or promote certain extracurricular school activities.

I believe we need to find a balance between responsible government oversight and nuisance government intrusion. These organizations provide services and other benefits to our communities. My legislation would require a licensor to exempt charitable non-profits from retail food facility licensing if they operate on no more than twelve days per year. This will give those organizations that have monthly fundraising activities that involve serving food to the public the opportunity to operate without the need to invest in expensive facilities or purchase an annual license.

Whether it’s the fire company chicken barbecues and pancake breakfasts to springtime church fish fries and summertime ice cream socials, we have all visited these events throughout the years. They are critical fundraising tools for our local volunteers and communities, and I believe the incidents of food-borne illnesses to be rather infrequent.

This legislation will be the same as House Bill 1069, which I introduced last legislative session.

Introduced as SB437