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article imageLos Angeles And The Battle Of The Bacon Dog

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By Pamela Jean     Apr 26, 2008 in Business
Los Angeles street vendors are in a pickle - well not a pickle exactly, as so far those aren't being regulated. The problem lies in the wrap, the bacon wrap to be precise. Seems LA has deemed bacon a hazardous food substance. Vendors are going broke.
Elizabeth Palacios, a street vendor in Los Angeles knows what it is like to go up against the LA County Health Department and it's public enforcers - the LA County cops. She recently did a stint in the slammer. Her crime? She sold hot dogs wrapped in bacon.
Seems the LA County Health Department has ruled that bacon is a potentially harmful substance. If it is not handled properly, refrigerated at the exact right temperature and conditions surrounding the bacon itself are not perfectly suited to keeping the bacon in pristine condition, the public is at risk of becoming sick. LA police are on the lookout for those sly vendors that continue to sell the bacon wrap dogs undercover, and when busted they pay a heavy price indeed. Not only are they slapped with a $1,000 fine or a potential sentence of up to 6 months in jail, their food is promptly confiscated and dumped into the nearest trash facility, and their carts are disposed of in the nearest dumpster.
Elizabeth has been selling her bacon dogs on the streets of LA for over 20 years. She pays taxes and is required to have 3 different kinds of permits.
Over a year after getting out of jail she is buried in bills. Attorney fees, back house payments missed due to her 45 days in jail and loss of income have left her in a financial pit of despair.. In the "good old days" she bought a house, and helped her daughter purchase a car. She was making a good living.
Not so much anymore. The county tells her there is a solution. She can purchase a new, approved cart at a cost of $26,000. That is 5 times the cost of the cart Palacios owns now.
The health department says the risk of illness to consumers is just too high, and it just can't allow these vendors to put their customers in such danger. There are no official reports of anyone becoming sick from the bacon wrapped dogs, but that is of no consequence apparently.
What is hard to fathom, however, is the large number of unlicensed street vendors setting up shop on corners and merrily selling bacon wrapped dogs to anyone that asks. When buyers approach Elizabeth their first question is "do you have bacon" and when she responds "no, I'm sorry I don't" - they move on. That move is across the street to the unlicensed guys, leaving Elizabeth with her naked dogs, and an empty cash apron.
And so goes the battle.
Just another example of your government at work - the work of putting hard working individuals out of business, all under the guise of "protecting the people" - one hot dog stand at a time.
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