Church Fundraiser Turns Into Pie Fight At St. Cecillia's Catholic Church in Rochester, Pa., members were stunned when a state food safety inspector told them that they couldn't sell homemade pies during events anymore — because they were breaking the law.
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Church Fundraiser Turns Into Pie Fight

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Church Fundraiser Turns Into Pie Fight

Church Fundraiser Turns Into Pie Fight

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LINDA WERTHHEIMER, host:

When members of a church in Rochester, Pennsylvania arrived with pies to sell at a recent fish fry, they didn't know they were bringing in contraband. That's right. Under Pennsylvania's food safety code you cannot sell baked goods made in just any old kitchen. The state has to inspect it. The state inspector was at St. Cecilia's Catholic Church when he noticed the pies. After learning they had not been prepared at the church, he told the parishioners the pies had to go.

Louise Humbert is one of St. Cecilia's pie bakers. Welcome to our program.

Ms. LOUISE HUMBERT: Hello.

WERTHEIMER: So you've been making pies and bringing them to St. Cecilia's for a long time?

Ms. HUMBERT: Probably about 10 years. I just make a raisin pie, though. That's the only kind that I make.

WERTHEIMER: So what was your reaction to learning that your pie was, could not be sold?

Ms. HUMBERT: Well, it was kind of a slap in the face.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HUMBERT: That's, you know, this is a fundraiser. And then we started thinking about all the places that have bake sales and things like that. And it would affect not just us, but an awful lot of people.

WERTHEIMER: The local paper called this pie-gate.

Ms. HUMBERT: Right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

WERTHEIMER: I understand that facilities that provide food at four or more events a year, something like that, they have to have a license and the kitchen has to be inspected. The church kitchen has been inspected. What about making pies at the church instead of making them at home?

Ms. HUMBERT: It could be done that way, but it would be a hassle to get all the different women in and everything. And everybody's oven bakes different in their own home. They're sure - know what they're doing in that, so we just didn't even consider doing that.

WERTHEIMER: What about getting your kitchen inspected?

Ms. HUMBERT: They told us that if we paid $35 they would have somebody come in and inspect it. Of course that doesn't say it's going to pass inspection either, you know?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HUMBERT: And so nobody went for that either.

WERTHEIMER: So you could just imagine spending the entire day cleaning up the kitchen and then here comes the inspector? I don't know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HUMBERT: Yeah.

WERTHEIMER: So what are you going to do?

Ms. HUMBERT: Well, our new senator, state senator is - he's actually, he's from Rochester, too, or has his office there, and he has come to our fish fries and that, and he said, well, he's going to try and write a bill so that other - all organizations can have fundraisers, so many a year or something like that. He didn't have the wording down yet, but he was going to work on that.

WERTHEIMER: So just to try to give you a little bit of an escape hatch?

Ms. HUMBERT: Yeah.

WERTHEIMER: Louise Humbert is a parishioner at St. Cecilia's Catholic Church. She joined us from her home in New Brighton, Pennsylvania. Ms. Humbert, thank you very much.

Ms. HUMBERT: You're welcome.

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