Clubs to follow food safety rules

By Elena Walker
Contributing Writer

This semester many clubs and organizations have held food-based events at Brookhaven College to promote or raise funds for their club. Rebekah Benavides said the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Student Veterans Association, Brookhaven Student Government Association and Brookhaven Anime Club are among the clubs that have sold food items at recent club fundraisers.

To organize food fundraisers, club members must complete a fundraising application from the Office of Student Life. They must also apply for a temporary food permit through the Farmers Branch Health Department, which is free to obtain.

Clubs or organizations have limited options for the food they can offer for sales because they are not inspected by the Farmers Branch Health Department. “The idea is to keep food items as simple as possible because they are being served in less than an ideal setting of a commercial kitchen,” Louise Maranzana, an environmental health specialist, said. She also said the measures are placed to prevent food contamination. The guidelines Farmers Branch has set regarding the distribution of food must be followed regardless if the food is being sold or given away for free, Maranzana said.

Homemade foods are allowed, but Benavides suggests store-bought or catered food for fundraising. “Prepackaged items are much better and easier to use because you know where it’s coming from,” Benavides said.

Maranzana said products that are time- or temperature-controlled, such as high-protein, high-carbohydrate foods, cannot be prepared at home.

At the Hispanic Heritage Festival Oct. 10, chicken empanadas were served, though they are a high-protein food item. They were catered through a restaurant, Benavides said.

“Other than baked goods, there can be no home prepping of food items,” Maranzana said. Instead Maranzana recommends purchasing packaged items so the food items are not potentially hazardous to consumers.

However, there is an exception. According to the Texas Cottage Food Law, baked goods may be sold as long as they do not require refrigeration, which includes items such as cream cheese or cream-filled goods.

According to the Farmers Branch Guidelines For Temporary Food Concessions, nacho cheese is allowed even though the cheese has to be heated on-site to serve and maintain a minimum temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

Other guidelines clubs must comply to, according to the Farmers Branch Guidelines For Temporary Food Concessions, include covering all foods on display and obtaining calibrated thermometers to check food temperatures.