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Texas health department responds to viral tamale photo

ECTOR COUNTY, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- The Ector County Health Department is responding to social media backlash after it confiscated tamales from an unlicensed couple selling them out of their vehicle. ECHD posted the photo of the seized goods- 25 dozen homemade tamales- on Facebook last week and the post was met with a fair amount of criticism.

Now, ECHD said it understands why some people were upset after its post, but stressed that the public’s safety will always come first. Director Brandy Garcia said that selling certain foods without a license is a violation of the Texas Health and Safety Code. She also said the practice can be dangerous and can lead to food-born illness.

“It’s very hard to trace food born illnesses, and so if there was a case where there was a food born illness and someone passed away, we would have to trace back to see what they ate and where they got that product from, so that’s why it’s very important to purchase from licensed vendors,” Garcia said.

ECHD also said the couple it confiscated the tamales from is a repeat offender. Garcia said that her department will always work with would-be vendors to show them how their food can be sold safely and legally.

Under the Cottage Law, certain foods CAN be sold legally without a license. So what foods are safe to sell, and buy?

Under the Cottage Law, these foods are allowed:

FRUIT BUTTERS: You will need to determine if your fruit butter is high-acid, low-acid, or acidified:

What about frozen fruits & vegetables?

Frozen fruits or vegetables that are raw and uncut are also allowed under the cottage food law. Two additional requirements apply:

Types of foods that CANNOT be sold under the Cottage Food Law

In addition to the foods that cannot be pickled or fermented to be sold under the Cottage Food Law, foods that are NOT allowed under the Cottage Food Law include:

To learn more about food safety under the Cottage Law, you’ll find more information here.