Stearns Farmer Guilty of Improper Food Handling

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Two recent legal decisions have found a Stearns County farmer improperly handled and illegally sold food without a license.

Last week a Stearns County jury found Alvin Schlangen guilty of five misdemeanor counts of food handling and storage, including failure to have a food handler’s license, improperly storing eggs at the correct temperature and misbranding food.

The charges stemmed from a Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) investigation that began in 2009 when Schlangen was found to be illegally selling raw milk, meat, poultry and other food products at a farmers market in Minneapolis and other locations.

In another legal proceeding against Schlangen, MDA Compliance Officers visited a Minneapolis warehouse on multiple occasions between 2009 and 2011 and found Schlangen selling unpasteurized dairy products, items lacking proper labeling or no labeling, custom processed meat labeled "Not for Sale," improperly refrigerated eggs and milk, and moldy fruit. On each occasion, MDA offered Schlangen the opportunity to purchase a food handler's license and he refused.
MDA issued orders to bring Schlangen into compliance with food laws and regulations. Schlangen appealed those orders and the case went to an administrative hearing at which Schlangen’s defense attorneys contended he is not in the business of selling food commercially and doesn't need a food handler’s license. But an Administrative Law Judge recently issued findings stating it was undisputed that Schlangen offered for sale a variety of foods, including unpasteurized milk and butter, and continues to do so. These findings are now final: http://mn.gov/oah/images/0400-22359-schlangen-summ-disp.pdf

In the Stearns County jury trial, Schlangen was fined $300 and sentenced to 90 days in jail, but the sentence was stayed on the condition he doesn’t commit similar offenses.

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