FCHD Apparently Unaware Human Pathogens Don’t Grow in Beer

louisville beer - fchd truck

Really? (Click to view full size.)

In the Middle Ages, drinking water often was scarce. Why? Because most water was unfit for human consumption. In a lot of cases, if you drank it, you got sick. Sometimes worse.

So the poor drank beer, cider or mead, and the rich typically would drink wine. In fact, beer at this time was seen as a healthy drink (probably because unlike water, it couldn’t kill you … unless you drank a LOT of it).

It is well documented that human pathogens can’t grow in beer. Sure, a beer can spoil, but it isn’t going to grow E. Coli and put you in the ground. And that isn’t due to the alcohol, as many assume; it’s due to the high pH content.

In fact, some believe beer had a hand in saving us as a species, thanks to the fact that many people in Medieval times died young because of the pathogens that existed in drinking water.

“But beer is a natural antibiotic,” wrote Marty Russell on DJJournal.com in 2010. “In fact, no known human pathogen can survive in beer. So switching from water to beer probably saved our early ancestors from extinction, at least some of them. Washington Post columnist George Will wrote in a 2008 piece that researchers believe beer may also have helped us evolve as a species by weeding out those of us who probably weren’t going to make it anyway.”

All of which just makes the latest tactic by the Floyd County Health Department seem so, well, “juvenile.”

New Albanian Brewing Company’s ongoing battle with the FCHD has been well documented, and Roger Baylor reported on his blog recently that the department had taken a photo outside Bank Street Brew House of a FCHD truck. Naturally, all following the story wondered what the department had up its sleeve. The answer to that wonder is the photo above, which apparently was posted on the department’s website with a headline about how hard the department is working to “keep food safe,” and captioned with sad rhetoric about the dangers of food-borne diseases: specifically, human pathogens that cannot grow in beer.

The suggestion, of course, is that the FCHD had at some point been dispatched to Bank Street to deal with some sort of health issue, which of course is entirely untrue.

The health department has officially gone too far, and has made itself look vindictive, pathetic and even a bit stupid in the process. In fact, it’s a bit offensive to me that those behind this lunacy honestly believe they can sway people with such tactics. In essence, they are insulting the public’s intelligence by assuming we don’t know the difference … or are too lazy to simply look up the facts on Google, as they should have done. So, honestly, we all should feel we’re part of this battle, and should be as angered by the public injustice, and this slap at our collective intelligence, as Baylor is.

Baylor has urged by way of Facebook that we wait to see what the department’s decision is on his appeal, a decision which should be presented this week. If the FCHD continues to defy its own policies and make a total mockery of due process and, frankly, government in general, there are more steps that can be taken. And such steps will. Baylor is determined to see this through, and his support seems to grow in the meantime. I, for one, can’t wait.

(And yes, I know the Floyd County Health Department understands that human pathogens don’t grow in beer, making the  headline of this entry initially misleading. I just can’t control my sarcasm sometimes.)

FCHD Expected to Make PourGate Decision by Next Week

louisville beer - new albanian brewing companyI won’t keep repeating why I think the Floyd County Health Department is completely unjustified in this situation, but I will provide you the link to Roger Baylor’s rundown of yesterday’s hearing regarding PourGate (aka NABC vs. FCHD). He provides an overview, as well as links to both his case and the health department’s.

The short version is that the department has seven days to issue a decision following yesterday’s hearing. I hope Roger’s continued efforts to fight this will pay off in justice being done.

And I’m still chuckling over his phrase “elderly punk on dope” in link No. 2.

NABC vs. Floyd County Health Department Hearing is July 25

louisville beer - NABC vs health department

Anti-Floyd County Health Department poster, anyone?

Roger Baylor reports over at his blog that in the New Albanian Brewing vs. Floyd County Health Department saga, a hearing is set for the department to hear Baylor’s appeal of a temporary food permit citation forced on him and other vendors back in June.

Forcing beer vendors to obtain a temporary food permit, Baylor says, was unprecedented; in addition, alcohol is not governed by local departments of health in Indiana. (See: State of Indiana Food Handling Certification Rule.)

In the latest turn of events, the department of health set a hearing for Thursday, July 25, at 5:30 p.m., but did not alert Baylor by mail, as required. In his blog post, Baylor says he found out by way of his attorney.

This tactic flies in the face of the appeals process, according to the department’s own policies. Baylor posted these two passages from said appeals policy:

“Upon the Health Officer’s receipt of such request, the Hearing Board shall hear the matter in an open hearing after at least five-days’ written notice of the time, place and nature thereof.”


“The notice of the hearing date shall be served upon the operator requesting the review by delivering such notice to the address of the bed and breakfast establishment, retail food establishment or temporary food establishment listed on the permit application or by facsimile or to such other address (if within Floyd County), as the operator shall designate in the letter of request to the Health Officer. Such delivery may be made by leaving the notice at the required address or by regular U.S. Mail.”

You know, it’s pretty sickening to watch a government agency at any level pull this kind of crap. This has all the elements of a good old-fashioned pissing match, with one major problem: One party is clearly right, and the other is clearly wrong. So, what’s the health department’s motivation now? Is it the $20 they’ll get from Baylor for every food permit he is forced to obtain? Or is simply another strong-armed cover up?

Baylor also reports that his request for records of previous permit citations has not been fulfilled, which suggests the health department knows its sudden governance over beer-pouring is unprecedented and, in fact, flat-out unsupported by any sort of law. But god forbid they admit that in an open forum.

Assuming Baylor’s appeal will be unceremoniously denied, file this one under “You Can’t Fight City Hall.” It doesn’t matter if you’re right and they’re wrong.

PourGate: NABC to Pour ‘Under Protest’ Tonight

louisville beer - new albanian brewing companyIf you go to Bicentennial Park in New Albany tonight and have a New Albanian Brewing Company beer, be sure to tip a little extra. Remember, NABC is paying an extra $20 in permit fees to pour that beer, as “PourGate” continues. Baylor says he and his staff will pour beer “under protest.”

A hearing date for NABC’s appeal of the Floyd County Health Department’s insistence that local vendors need a temporary food permit to sling suds has yet to be scheduled, according to NABC owner Roger Baylor, but he said the department is so far complying with his request for five years’ worth of temporary food service permit citations.

As annoying as bureaucrats can be, it could be semi-humorous to watch the health department squirm in the next few weeks, possibly in hopes this issue will simply go away. Baylor noted on his blog the other day that while day to day business has to continue at NABC, those interested in seeing how this dispute plays out should never fear that he’s going to let the issue fizzle out. I don’t doubt that for a minute.

Based on comments posted on this blog and Baylor’s, as well as what Baylor himself has said regarding the public’s response, the health department is alone in believing it is in the right by forcing vendors like NABC to pay for a temporary food permit just to sell beer at events.

“No other health department in the state is laying claim to what Dr. [Tom] Harris sees as is his department’s sudden obligation to control temporary draft beer pours,” Baylor wrote in his blog this morning. “It seems that the opinion of his fellow bureaucrats is against the FCHD, too. Shouldn’t that tell you something?”

The fun starts tonight at 6 p.m., with Nick Dittmeier, followed by Quiet Hollers. Hopefully, the health department won’t force the bands to buy temporary oxygen permits to dispense their vocals.

NABC vs. Floyd County Health Department

louisville beer - new albanian brewing companyRoger Baylor over at New Albanian Brewing Company has never been one to hold his opinion or measure his words, which is why I’m not at all surprised that he has come out swinging in the wake of the Floyd County Health Department abruptly, for lack of a better word, demanding that NABC purchase a temporary food permit last week at an event NABC was catering, via an apologetic foot soldier.

Baylor has argued that it is the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that regulates beer handling and sales, and has for years — not to mention that alcohol isn’t exactly the same as a hamburger. Which, you know, is why NABC and other beer vendors have apparently never needed a food permit for these types of events before.

My thought about this strange and sudden clamp-down is “why?” Baylor called it a “power grab” in a press statement and filed an appeal, standing up for the fact that this abrupt mandate has no precedent. Meanwhile, Floyd County Health Officer Dr. Tom Harris is calling it a “state regulation,” and that vendors pouring beer at any public event must indeed pony up the $20 for a food permit. Yet, Baylor, who has been doing business in Floyd County and the surrounding areas for years, has never experienced it or even gotten a whiff of it until now.

Obviously, it’s not that Baylor can’t find $20 in his budget for these events — it’s the principle. Harris claims his department has cited others similarly, and that NABC is not being singled out. Baylor, who probably knows the local beer and food scene as well as anyone, says he simply has never heard of such madness, and was blind-sided by the citation.

Jeff Gillenwater, quoting a Clark County Health Department worker, posted on Baylor’s New Albany Confidential website that, “I work at the Clark County Health Department. We do not make beer vendors get [temporary] food permits because beer is not considered a potentially hazardous food.”

The State of Indiana Food Handling Certification Rule (410 IAC 7-22) agrees with Baylor and the unnamed Clark County Health Department employee, specifically listing beer as a “non‐potentially hazardous beverage” that is exempt from its food handling policies. Apparently, Floyd County now sees it differently.

Again … why? More specifically, why now? If Harris’ department had sent someone to let NABC know that in the future they’d have to buy a permit, that would be one thing. Instead, it was a citation, no questions asked. This feels like the action of a department bent on control.

“Amid the tortuously Orwellian world of Dr. Tom Harris’s health department,” Baylor wrote on Facebook this morning, “it’s just another $20 slapped down to fund programs his county political bosses won’t.”

It will be interesting to see how the appeals process plays out. Baylor said he has no idea how long it will take or whether the appeal hearing will be public, and that he will, under protest, pay the $20 each time he and his associates pour beer into a plastic cup (including tonight at Bicentennial Park).

Heck, at this point Roger might as well start selling hot dogs and brats from his booth to go with the beer. If he’s got to pay for a food permit anyway, why not sell food to help pay for the permit? Can I have spicy mustard with mine, please?

I jokingly asked Baylor if his brewing machines kill local fascists as well (a nod to a phrase Woody Guthrie had painted on his guitar, and one which can be found on many NABC t-shirts). His response?

“I have a new phrase, not co-opted from Woody Guthrie: ‘These machines mock reactionaries.'”

UPDATE: Baylor has requested five years of food permit citations to learn how many citations have been issued previously to those vending food vs. alcohol. In addition, Harris told The News-Tribune that the NABC appeal will be heard at the next regular Floyd County Health Department board meeting.