La Paz County Health Department has issued a clarification to their position with regard to Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op, saying that the group need only label any baked and processed goods:
The health department was in conversation with the local coordinator of the Bountiful Baskets site to let them know that while the fruits and vegetables do not need to be labeled, all the baked and processed goods need to have labels before a permit will be granted. Bountiful Baskets chose not to apply for permit. “Our issue has always been with baked and processed goods needing to be labeled. In fact, we regularly waive fees for non-profit organizations,” explains Marion Shontz, Director of the La Paz County Health Department.
“It’s important to know where the processed food is coming from, who made it and what ingredients are,” says Shontz. “It’s about food safety.” Food labeling allows health officials to investigate disease outbreaks quickly and it is a requirement of the Federal Drug Administration that La Paz County Health Department must uphold.
Vegetable vendors are not required to label their fruits and vegetables but add-ons like tortillas, bread, and granola must be labeled with ingredients and where the food was prepared. This allows people with allergies to avoid certain foods and ensures the health department can conduct quick investigations during outbreaks.
As an example of the importance of food safety and labeling, an investigation in another Arizona county determined that some of the granola being distributed by Bountiful Baskets was being made in a cement mixer. In the past, La Paz County Health Department has investigated and stopped the production of shrimp cocktail being made in a trash can, unlabeled home canned jelly, and various other seafood products being made and sold in the back of a truck.
A local participant in the Bountiful Baskets co-operative says they believe the co-op will work where it is currently located, at Manataba Park at Four Corners.