Packaged fresh meats must be kept separate
What is the policy for keeping fresh fish separate from fresh beef in a grocery store in Hawaii? I've seen fresh packaged fish sitting atop ground beef in a supermarket. I asked a guy in the meat department if that is legal to do so. He said it is OK as long as the items are wrapped. Sounds fishy to me. What is the correct way?
Answer: Not only does it sound fishy, it is against federal and state food code regulations.
"Fresh packaged fish should not be displayed atop of or under fresh ground beef or fresh meats," said Lance Wong, supervisor of the state Department of Health's Food and Drug Branch.
Chicken should be displayed with chicken, beef with beef, fish with fish, etc., he said.
The concern is that, although the products are wrapped, there is a risk of leakage and possible cross-contamination.
Wong also said that ready-to-eat products, such as poke, need to be separated from raw products by a physical barrier.
"We have found most supermarket displays in compliance, but with small display areas, an abundance of products, and customers occasionally moving food products around, store personnel should be checking to ensure the proper display of products to minimize cross-contamination," he said.
Call the Food and Drug Branch at 586-4725 and an inspector will be sent to the supermarket in question.
Q: Is a fraternal beneficiary society exempt from federal taxes under IRC 501(c)(8) and exempt from Hawaii State Excise Tax under HRS 237-23(a)(3) required to pay benefits to its members for life, sick, accident or other insurance benefits? This issue is interesting because many states are being denied revenue because fraternal beneficiary societies take tax exemptions but do not pay benefits.
A: Under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(8), fraternal beneficiary societies receive tax-exempt status if they provide "for the payment of life, sick, accident, or other benefits to the members of such society, order, or association or their dependents."
However, because there is no requirement on the amount of such benefits, many organization provide "very minimal" benefits or make them available through their national organization, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
On the state level, the Department of Taxation follows the federal exemption, said Sandra Yahiro, deputy director.
"In other words, if the federal government approves a request for tax-exempt status, the state Tax Department also approves it," she said.
An entity approved for tax-exempt status under Section 237 23(a)(3) of the Hawaii Revised Statutes should be providing its members "death, sick, accident, prepaid legal services, or other benefits."
"Because the state Tax Department follows the federal (lead), if someone believes an entity has not fulfilled its statutory obligations to remain tax exempt, it should be reported to the IRS," she said.
"If the IRS revokes the tax-exempt status, the state Tax Department would also revoke the tax-exempt status," she said.
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to email@example.com
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