Ventura County’s big red box of hate

February 25, 2010

Out of all the beverages that Ventura County Health Control must take away, why the elixir of the gods? Why?

Coffee, that magic beverage uniting our caffeinated community. The drink that binds the universe together! Imagining a world without coffee is like imagining a world experiencing an eternity of darkness from which it will never recover.

Do Ventura County health code officials care? Of course not! In just one of many examples of unnecessary enforcement, another business has been forced to suffer from the health police cracking their whips, again.

This time, it’s reported that the complimentary coffee and donuts served daily at the counter of a Camarillo hardware/gardening/pest control/DIY shop can’t be served any longer to customers.

Were they spiking the French Roast with some pesticide? WD-40 perhaps? Or some other toxic blend unpalatable to the senses?

No. In typical health department fashion, the default reason is that the store can’t serve the complimentaries because it doesn’t have the necessary facilities to do so.

In this case, “facilities” aren’t extra stirrers, or a better variety of confectionary sprinkles, but a fully installed, stainless steel sink and kitchen prep station.

Stainless steel at a hardware store? No problem! They can install one in a jiffy, right?

Right, but why should they have to? I mean, unless the shop was intent on serving up some panini, perhaps, or maybe even a buffet spread for its lunchtime patrons, a full-service kitchen station is not necessary. Unless you’re a restaurant. That’s why restaurants have full-service prep facilities, and hardware stores have … well, the hardware needed to build a kitchen!

And just because a store has the materials to build a kitchen doesn’t mean that one should be built there.

This is not the first time we’ve heard of this happening before. We Olive, the Downtown Ventura condiment and olive oil vendor, has had its battles with the health department before over similar disputes. Because the proprietor is handling foodstuff without the proper handwashing and prep necessities, the de rigueur is compromised.

According to the We Olive personnel, the Ventura County location is the only place this has happened to the company, with storefronts across the state.

That means that Ventura County health officials, who will maintain that they follow the letter of state law, are following their own unique set of rules just because they can. Sounds a lot like the way everything happens in Ventura County government, doesn’t it?

In today’s report, one customer of the Camarillo business called the coffee and donuts the store’s “little pink box of love.” In essence, does that mean the health department is espousing hate in order to achieve health?

Whatever it is, I’d like to see how the health inspector deals with those caffeine withdrawals.


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