Facebook may be a great place to socialize with other people online, but officials in San Joaquin County want you to know that if you plan on selling those people food, you may be breaking the law. According to reports, authorities in the California county are taking a woman to court for selling homemade ceviche as part of a Facebook group, and if convicted, she could face up to a year in jail.
Stockton resident Mariza Reulas told Fox 40 News that for three years she was a member of 209 Food Spot, a Facebook group of area locals who supposedly did things like share recipes, swap food and occasionally sell cooked dishes to each other. “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,” Reulas explained.
However, local authorities apparently didn’t find the group so innocuous, choosing to go after members in a sting operation – with court documents reportedly showing that an undercover investigator bought a plate of ceviche from Reulas through the group last December. As a result, the single mother of six was one of about a dozen people cited for two misdemeanors: operating a food facility and engaging in a business without a permit. “I don't write the laws, I enforce them. And the legislature has felt that this is a crime,” San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Kelly McDaniel told Fox 40. “Food prepared in a facility that does not inspect it creates a risk to the public,” as well as undercutting business owners who go through the trouble of obtaining a permit, she explained.
Though other members of the group have reportedly accepted plea bargains for lesser penalties, Reulas has decided to fight her charge in court. “It was just some cooking me and my daughters would do for fun on a weekend we didn't have anything to do,” the New York Daily News quoted her as writing online. “Never tried to be in business. Never tried making an extreme amount of money. I just enjoy cooking. Not something I want to do daily lol or even weekly.”
Just exactly how she plans to fight the charge, however, wasn't discussed. But I’d definitely avoid trying to bribe anyone with ceviche.