The Health Department notes that with onset of Spring and Summer comes the growing season. And that means the number of local Farmer’s Markets will be increasing. The Environmental Health Division of the Henry and Stark County Health Department notes, “Farmers markets are one of the oldest forms of direct marketing by small farms. In the last decade they have become favorite marketing methods for many farmers throughout the United States, and a weekly ritual for many shoppers. Many consumers frequent their markets because they believe that all the foods they purchase there are healthier and safer than items sold at supermarkets.”
Dorothy David said, “As the trend is moving toward consuming fresh and locally gown products, we should not forget that the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables can impact consumers as well as everyone who grows and harvests fresh products.”
David shared with the participants the updated version of the ILCS625/Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act, which is a law that regulates Farmers Markets. This updated version is effective as of January 1, 2016. This law requires anyone who offers free/charge sampling for promotional/educational purposes to hold a “Farmers Market Food Product Handlers Certificate.” She also mentioned that this certificate is issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health upon completion of an on line training course available through I-TRAIN AT https://i.train.org.
Being aware and prepared will keep you competitive, enable you to answer your customer’s questions, and reinforce the perception of food safety associated with your products.
So if the product is chopped, sliced, diced, bottled, jammed or jelled, pickled or put into a bag, chances are there is a regulation telling you how it must be handled.
The Health Department wants local food handlers to have the latest and most up-to-date information on food safety. David adds, “Offering education to local event food vendors really is a win-win for everyone.”