Slushy Information: Many members have asked about the requirements for slushy sales at beer distributors. Since the passage of Act 166, Distributors have been permitted to sell these products under advisory opinions from the PLCB’s Office of Chief Counsel so long as they fit under the definition of “growler”. While there have been few official rulings and/or regulations from the PLCB or PA Department of Agriculture on the issue of slushy sales, here are some guidelines we believe will be important for our members:
- The Department of Agriculture (“DOA”) will require distributors to register with them (and pay an application fee) in order to fill and sell slushies. For distributors who are already registered with the DOA, you should be able to treat this as a change in operations application. If you are already selling growlers then no additional registration or application should be required. Here is a link to the DOA application: http://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Protect/FoodSafety/Retail%20Food/Retail%20Foods%20Facilities%20and%20Restaurants/Documents/APPLICATION%20PACKET%20Retail%20Food%20Facilities%20and%20Restaurants%20.pdf.
- Distributors will be required to install a 3 compartment sink and a separate hand washing sink near the slushy area (although it may be possible to seek a variance to utilize the 3 compartment sink as the hand washing sink). The location of the sinks must be approved by the DOA. We have heard of instances where the DOA or local health department has approved a 2 compartment sink, so we suggest contacting the DOA or local health department to confirm.
- All tap systems must be cleaned in accordance with PLCB Regulations (40 Pa Code §§5.50-5.54). Importantly, the tap system is to be cleaned at the sole expense of the distributor and the method of cleaning must leave the entire system in a clean and sanitary condition. The following cleaning methods have been approved by the PLCB: (i) use of a chemical cleaning solution; (ii) live steam; or (iii) hot water solution followed by a thorough rinsing with hot water. The frequency of cleaning is to occur once every 7 days or at a cleaning frequency approved by the PLCB. The distributor must maintain and keep a record of the date of each cleaning and the method utilized. If the distributor uses a third party to clean the dispensing system, the distributor must obtain a certificate showing the date cleaned, the name of the person by whom cleaned and the method utilized, and keep the certificate on file at the licensed premises.
- Section 493(6) of the Liquor Code requires all licensees (including distributors) who sell malt or brewed beverages from a faucet, spigot or other dispensing apparatus to have the trade name or brand of the product served apparent in full sight of the customer.
- The container in which slushies are sold must be refillable and capable of being resealed. Customers are not permitted to consume these beverages on a distributor’s licensed premises.
- There is no requirement to affix any sort of product label to a slushy once it is filled, but a distributor is responsible for maintaining accurate records that reflect what type of beer is being sold in a transaction in order to comply with 47 P.S. § 4-493(12). A distributor is not permitted to mix anything with the malt or brewed beverage (not even ice).
- Employees serving and filling slushies must be RAMP certified, and they must refuse to fill slushies for patrons who are underage or visibly intoxicated.
- The Surgeon General’s Warning regarding alcohol consumption set forth in 27 U.S. Code § 215 (a) should be posted on all slushies: “GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems.” Best practices dictate that a slushy should not be filled unless the Surgeon General’s warning is in a conspicuous and prominent location on the container, or a label containing the warning (e.g., a sticker) can be affixed to the container by the distributor.
If you intend to sell slushies or growlers at your distributor, you should contact the DOA as soon as possible to initiate the application and inspection process. Be advised that not all facilities are under the DOA’s jurisdiction. Six counties (Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Erie, Montgomery and Philadelphia) have county health departments that handle inspections and licensing in their jurisdictions. Additionally, some local municipalities also do their own inspection and licensing. If your business is located in a county or local health department jurisdiction, you should contact your local health department for assistance with licensing and requirements.