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Health department cracking down on meat vendors at farmers market

Seth Slabaugh of the Muncie Gannett reports that The Delaware County Health Department wants to prevent outbreaks of foodborne illness – but their crackdown on how local vendors handle their food might cause a few of them to stop selling their wares at the Minnetrista Farmers’ Market.

“The health department is just doing their job,” said Tari Lambert, director of marketing and merchandising at Minnetrista. “They’re doing it not to be mean, but to keep us as safe as possible.”

Meat, for instance, must be kept in a freezer that a vendor could plug in at Minnetrista. Or, he would be required to have the freezer at his home inspected by the Wells County Health Department and the freezer at his farm inspected by the Blackford County Health Department. Coolers of ice are not acceptable.
In addition, vendors who sell baked goods at Minnetrista must prepare their food in approved kitchens subject to inspection, such as church kitchens. Baked goods cannot be prepared in people’s homes and sold to the public.

“We don’t want food that is sold to the public to be coming from my house or your house or someone else’s house. It has to come from an approved facility open to the public and subject to inspection,” says Bob Jones, administrator of the Delaware County Health Department. “Home use of a freezer is not acceptable. We don’t go into someone’s home to do an inspection. By statute, rules and ordinance, you can’t sell out of a home.

There is also now a $55 permit that vendors must obtain in order to sell foods that require inspection.
Vendors are looking at other farmers’ markets to see if regulations might be different elsewhere.

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