Roadside food vendors could be harmful, authorities say

FRESNO, Calif.

Law enforcement and Ag officials say buying products on the side of the road, may actually be harmful to you and farmers in our community.

The owner of a fruit stand quickly went from selling produce to being a part of a roadside vendor bust on Thursday.

Sgt. Ryan Hushaw with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office Agricultural Crimes Task Force said, "You are allowed to sell fruit from your own property, as long that's the location where the produce is actually grown at, but you cannot sell fruit from the right of way easement roadway."

Several agencies joined forces to sweep through the county and stop illegal stands from popping up.

Action News was there when one truck pulled up and quickly left after seeing law enforcement. Ag officials say that while the sales seem harmless, they're not.

"Some of that fruit is stolen and some of it is mishandled," said Fresno County Ag Commissioner Les Wright. "Where it's not a safe product to eat, much different than you would get from a retail outlet."

Wright says it's important to know where produce is coming from because of health concerns for consumers and the unwanted pests that could hit the Ag industry.

"And we don't need those pests here in California," said Wright.

The task force has conducted similar busts and say they often uncover much more than just a fruit stand.

Sgt. Ryan Hushaw explained, "Sometimes there are human trafficking issues related, where people are brought up from other countries and basically they're out there for 8 to 10 hours a day to sell fruit."

Those on the county task force say the illegal stands bring health and safety concerns for the vendors, consumers and farmers.

With the weather warming up, officials know more illegal stands will set up the Valley. They hope the public will think twice before buying produce or products from these vendors.

All of the fruit from Thursday's bust was confiscated by the Ag department. The vendors can get it back if they show proof of purchase.

If the produce is deemed safe and the vendor doesn't pick it up, it is donated to the Poverello House in Downtown Fresno.

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