Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer
Both Currahee Brewing Company and Lazy Hiker Brewing have welcomed four-legged pets into their taproom since the businesses opened. Breweries and dogs go hand-in-hand. Lazy Hiker includes water bowls on the patio and Currahee has hosted fundraisers to support local animal shelters. But all that has now changed, after the Board of Health received a complaint.
According to both breweries, they were visited by members of the health department who informed them that dogs were not allowed inside of the taproom based on how breweries are permitted under state law. While the change was just now made at the breweries and at local businesses such as Rock House Lodge, the taproom located inside of Outdoor 76, the rule has actually been law in North Carolina since 2012.
“The rule regarding this has not recently changed,” said Kyle Jennings, REHS Environment Health Section Administrator. “N.C. adopted the Food Code in 2012 and was incorporated into the rules regulating food service establishments. The N.C. rule based on the Food Code (15A NCAC 18A.2656) does not allow dogs or cats from entering a food service establishments permitted by Environmental Health. There are some exceptions in the rule noted above.”
Although the breweries and Rock House Lodge don’t serve food, they are permitted by food service establishments, primarily based on the types of sink they use to wash the glassware. The law governing a “food establishment” predates breweries as we know it today, and has existed since at least the1980s.
The reusable glassware at the establishments, which are required to be washed, rinsed and sanitized in a sink, are what makes the businesses permitted as a food establishment under state law.
Per North Carolina Food Code, food establishments are not allowed to have animals on the premises, including dining areas, unless they are service animals as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.
There are specific conditions in the health code in which dogs and cats are not restricted from an outdoor dining area of a food establishment.
(B) Live animals are allowed in the following situations if the owner or operator does not permit animals to physically contact food, serving dishes, utensils, tableware, linens, unwrapped single-service and single-use articles or other food service items that may result in contamination of food or food-contact surfaces and does not permit animals to physically contact employees engaged in the preparation or handling of food:
(1) Fish or crustacea in aquariums or display tanks;
(2) Patrol dogs accompanying police or security officers in offices and dining, sales, and storage areas; and sentry dogs in outside fenced areas;
(3) Service animals accompanying persons with disabilities in areas that are not used for food preparation;
(4) Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) and cats (Felis catus) in outdoor dining areas; provided that dogs and cats are physically restrained, and do not pass through any indoor areas of the food establishment. Except for service animals described in subparagraph (3) of this aragraph, nothing in this rule prohibits a food establishment from prohibiting dogs and cats in outdoor dining areas; and
(5) In areas that are not used for food preparation, storage, sales, display, or dining, in which there are caged animals or animals that are similarly confined, such as in a variety store that sells pets or a tourist park that displays animals.
The law regarding animals in breweries varies from state to state and while they are currently prohibited, with the impact of beer tourism on the North Carolina economic, updating the state’s legislature to include provisions for the new industry may be possible.
The Macon County Board of Health plans to discuss the issue in more detail next week during its monthly board meeting. Individuals with questions or concerns are invited to attend the meeting which begins at 6:15 p.m. at the health department.