State shuts down Richmond homemade soup biz - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

State shuts down Richmond homemade soup biz

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

A local mom-and-pop soup operation is now shut down, after state regulators warned the public of possible botulism poisoning. Corfinio Foods has been selling glass jars of Italian soups and sauces at the Brandermill Green Market, since May. However, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services told the owner, Denise Ashworth, she could no longer sell the homemade, jarred specialties to the public.

Ashworth, of Richmond, says she thought she was following the regulations.
 
"I've been canning for 30 years," said Ashworth of the family recipes she cooks up in her kitchen.

Virginia health officials recently halted Ashworth's stand at the farmer's market, during a visit. Health inspectors told Ashworth she wasn't allowed to cook, jar and sell her recipes because of sanitation regulations.

"The state of Virginia told me that I was selling stuff that was unsafe, and I don't want to do that," continued Ashworth.

Ashworth says she read government regulations online about at-home canning of food. However, she didn't realize it was against regulation to sell it.

"I would never, ever sell anything to the home public that I knew was going to be a harm to anybody," said Ashworth.

Ashworth boils the glass mason jars several times over to help disinfect and seal them. Regardless, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services sent out an alert, instructing anyone who bought Corfinio Foods products to throw them out. Officials warn that improperly jarred food can lead to botulism poisoning, a rare, but potentially fatal, illness caused by bacteria.

Ultimately, Ashworth will have to prepare most of her food at a licensed facility, and hire a cannery to seal the jars. Meantime, no one yet has reported getting sick from her food. Ashworth says she's looking into investing in a licensed facility so she can continue selling her specialty sauces within regulation.

Meantime, a representative from the Brandermill Green Market says the market is no longer renting a space to Corfinio Foods.

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Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

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