ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - (KTRE) - Hot tamales made out of dog food, opossum, cats, and racoon. Health Inspector Terry Free says illegal food vendors are a huge problem.
"A bigger trend right now that they're using is Alpo dog food as a substitute for the meat products in their hot tamales," said Free, the Angelina County and Cities Health District Director of Environmental Services. "We've caught them mixing them up in their kitchen sinks, we've caught them mixing them up in their bathtubs."
The economy tanked and the number of illegal food vendors in Angelina County has been growing ever since.
Free checked up on an illegal vendor he busted last month.
"Seeing if it's still there, if it still looks like it's in operation because the same people were operating out of home," Free said as he drives by the vendor's home. "It's gone, which tells me it could be set up somewhere else. It could very well be set up in one of the adjacent counties that's what will usually happen."
Nacogdoches County doesn't have a health department, so vendors often move across the river.
Free checked one more place across town to see if the illegal mobile unit was there, but nothing.
"Nope which tells me again they have it set up somewhere and we'll just have to keep our eye out for it," Free said.
If caught, they'll be shut down and fined up to $500 per offense for violating state codes.
If you don't have a permit, you can't sell food to the public.
"The response that we get from the people that have bought these items, they brag about how good they are and that's what makes it humorous is we have found these products being made out of all this adulterated type products, such as the dog food," Free said.
Monday afternoon a complaint was coming in against another illegal vendor. The illegal operations and investigations continue.
Many are actually caught on the weekends, when vendors wouldn't expect inspectors to be out.
If you're suspicious about a vendor, you should call the Angelina County and Cities Health District.