Farm Store Searched

Food production raises concerns
ANTIS TOWNSHIP, BLAIR COUNTY -  A Blair County farmer has run into a problem with State regulators for making and selling cheese and other foods.  Representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture today raided an Blair County property.
Charlie Benedetto says he has been making cheese, raviolis, and other Italian specialties on his Antis Township farm for almost fifty years.  But State regulators have concerns about the operation.  Benedetto says his farm based food production operation was started by his mother and has been in business for nearly a century. But now he has been told the effort is in conflict with state regulations.   He had been given a list of possible violations on his unlicensed food production facility.
"She made a list  out and so on like that  she said I have to have a pasteurizer , and I have to,  I don't drain my vat right  and I have to get my milk tested once a month." 
 Because this is an "unlicensed" facility, and Benedetto has, according to the Pennsylvania   Department of Agriculture,   not been willing to work with them, Department officials, accompanied by State Police Troopers,   executed a search warrant on the property.
"First of all his facility has not been inspected.    He does not have a permit to sell any raw milk products.   He does not have the proper pasteurization tools.   He does not have a license to sell food."

 While the State took samples of all the foods produced here, there was no immediate effort to shut down the operation. That came as good news to some of his customers who depend on this shop for special foods.
 "He makes ravioli and homemade cheese, ricotta cheese, and other items and we can come down and buy things off of him.  Yes for years, we've been coming down and buying things off of Charlie."

Benedetto says he will continue to keep his doors open and making   the cheese and Italian specialties until the State takes addition action.   A number of his customers say they will continue to shop there as long as they can.

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