Mariza Reulas will be going to trial -- and possibly jail -- if she's convicted of selling an illegal substance via a Facebook food group, in Stockton, California (video below).
The single mom was allegedly selling her homemade ceviche when she was cited by San Joaquin County law enforcement.
"It was just unreal that they were saying that you could face up to a year in jail," Reulas told KTXL.
Reulas was part of a Facebook group, 209 Food Spot, in which people shared recipes, organized informal dinners and sometimes sold their own food.
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"Somebody would be like, 'Oh I don't have anything to trade you but I would love to buy a plate,' and they'd be off of work," the mom of six added.
San Joaquin County set up an undercover sting operation to smoke out 209 Food Spot members because most of them were allegedly selling food without permits.
An undercover investigator contacted Reulas in what appeared to be an effort to get her to break the law with one of her tasty treats.
Reulas and about a dozen others were cited with misdemeanors for operating a food facility and engaging in business without a permit.
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Reulas refused to take a plea offer from prosecutors, and now faces possible time behind bars if she loses her case.
San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Kelly McDaniel countered: "I don't write the laws, I enforce them. And the legislature has felt that this is a crime."
According to McDaniel, the sale of any food that is not inspected by the health department puts people at risk, and cuts into the profits of those who do obtain food permits in the free market; she said the Facebook group was warned.
"Food prepared in a facility that does not inspect it creates a risk to the public," McDaniel added.
The FDA noted in July that the International Commissary Corporation (ICC) recalled its Marie Callender's 14 oz. Cheese Biscuit Mix, which was sold by grocery stores in Stockton, because of a possible health risk linked to E. coli; there was no mention of any criminal charges.
The federal agency stated in a press release at the time:
Most strains of E. coli are harmless, however, others can make you sick. E. coli O121 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. People who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately. The very young, seniors, and those with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to food borne illness. Anyone diagnosed by a physician as having an illness related to E. coli O121 should contact state and local public health authorities.