An undercover police officer busted Mariza Reulas for selling some ceviche on a Facebook recipe share group.
Reulas was a member of a local group that shared recipes and held potlucks in the Stockton area. Sometimes, money was exchanged for prepared food.
“Somebody would be like, ‘Oh I don’t have anything to trade you but I would love to buy a plate,’ like they’d be off of work,” she explained.
This arrangement is illegal according to authorities.
“It was just like unreal that they were saying you could face up to a year in jail,” said Reulas.
Authorities conducted a sting on the group because a majority of members didn’t have a permit to sell food. Reulas refused to take the plea offer of three years probation.
“I don’t write the laws, I enforce them. And the legislature has felt that this is a crime,” said San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Kelly McDaniel. She says selling any food not subject to health department inspection puts whoever eats it in real danger, not to mention it undercuts business owners who do get permits to make their food.
She says the 209 Food Spot Facebook group was sent a warning before charges were handed down.
Is there a difference between someone who occasionally sells food and a restaurant whose primary business is selling food to the public? In the eyes of the law, there is not. But how extensively do we want to regulate the behavior of private citizens and put them in jail? Should the law prohibit school bake sales and children’s lemonade stands? Whatever happened to caveat emptor? You know the risks to buying food from an “unpermitted” person on a Facebook group, so why does the government need to be involved?
“When they talk about potential jail time for this, what goes through your mind?,” asked FOX40.
“My kids,” responded Reulas.
Without a father in their life, Reulas says the thought of having to leave her kids scares her. Every court appearance takes a toll on her youngest son, six-year-old Justice.
“The night before he always asks like are you going to come back?” said Reulas.
Just what we need: more people in jail and families broken up.
Well done, nanny state, well done.