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Grocery store usda violation Ohio

Facing a USDA Violation for Your Ohio Grocery Store? Here’s What You Need to Know

So, you got hit with a USDA violation notice for your grocery store in Ohio, and you’re not sure what to do next. Take a deep breath, we’ve got you covered. The USDA has strict rules around what qualifies stores to accept SNAP (food stamp) benefits, and even minor violations can put your ability to keep doing that at risk. But, don’t panic – with the right approach, you can get through this.At Spodek Law Group, we’re experts in dealing with these kinds of situations. We‘ve helped countless grocery stores across the country navigate USDA violations and keep their SNAP retailer licenses. It’s simple – our goal is to be your strongest advocate and get you the best possible outcome.

Understanding the USDA SNAP Retailer Requirements

First things first, let’s go over what the USDA actually requires for your store to be an authorized SNAP retailer. There are two main criteria:Criterion A (The Stocking Requirements): You must stock at least 7 different varieties in each of these 4 staple food groups:

  1. Fruits/Vegetables
  2. Dairy Products
  3. Breads/Cereals
  4. Meats/Fish/Poultry

Within each of those groups, you need at least 3 stocking units of one of the 7 varieties to be perishable (fresh, frozen or refrigerated). So for example, you can’t just stock 7 varieties of canned vegetables – you need some fresh ones too.Criterion B (The Sales Requirements): More than 50% of your total gross retail sales must come from selling staple food items. Any foods that are heated or prepared on-site don‘t count towards this 50%. If over half your sales are from prepared hot foods, the USDA considers you a restaurant, not a grocery store.Those are the big ones, but there are other little rules too, like making sure your store is stocked with a variety of different sizes, brands, etc. It gets complicated fast.

Common USDA Violation Issues for Ohio Grocery Stores

So what kinds of violations are grocery stores in Ohio typically getting dinged for? Here are some of the biggest issues we see:Inadequate Stocking of Staple Food Groups: This is probably the most common one. USDA inspectors come in and find you‘re missing certain varieties of staple foods, or don’t have enough stocking units of perishable items. Maybe your dairy section is lacking, or you ran out of fresh produce.Too Many Hot/Prepared Food Sales: Another major issue, especially for smaller urban grocery stores or convenience stores. If over half your sales are from hot foods meant to be eaten right away, the USDA can try to classify you as a restaurant and deny your SNAP license.Inventory Record-Keeping Problems: The USDA wants to see detailed inventory records proving you’re consistently stocking enough staple foods. If your records are a mess or you can’t show what you’ve ordered/received, that‘s a violation.Outdated Business Licenses or Paperwork: Silly things like forgetting to renew your local business licenses or food permits can actually lead to USDA violations too. They want to see you’re operating 100% by the book.Past Violations or SNAP Issues: If your store has been hit with violations before, or you‘ve had issues with improperly accepting SNAP in the past, that’s a big red flag for the USDA. They‘ll be watching you extra closely.The bottom line is this – the USDA takes their SNAP retailer requirements very seriously. Even small slip-ups can potentially jeopardize your approval if you don’t handle it properly.

The SNAP Reauthorization Process, Step-by-Step

Every 5 years, the USDA requires SNAP retailers to go through a reauthorization process to keep their license. Here‘s a quick overview of what that entails:

  1. You Get a Reauthorization Letter: This kicks things off, giving you a code to start the online application within 30 days.
  2. Submit Application + Documents: You provide info like business licenses, ownership details, tax returns, etc. The USDA may ask for additional documents too.
  3. Revenue Verification: USDA staff review your sales records, invoices, tax filings, etc. to verify you meet the food sales requirements.
  4. In-Store Inspection: An inspector comes to your store to evaluate your stocked inventory and ensure you’re compliant.
  5. USDA Decision: After reviewing everything, the USDA issues a letter approving or denying your reauthorization.
  6. Appeal (If Denied): If denied, you have the right to appeal and potentially get another inspection or re-apply after a waiting period.

As you can see, it’s a fairly involved process with lots of room for violations or issues to crop up. Having the right legal representation is crucial for any grocery store going through this.

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