Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Farmers Markets Concern: Less Governmental Oversight

The rise in farmers markets popularity is accompanied by a parallel rise in concerns about how best to keep these local consumers safe from the same pathogens responsible for nationwide outbreaks of salmonella, listeria and E. coli in commercially produced foods.Congress exempted small farms from the more rigorous safety requirements of the new Food Safety Modernization Act. The exemption applies to farms that gross under $500,000 annually and sell the majority of their products directly to consumers, restaurants or stores in their state or within 275 miles of the farm.
Although the fare sold at farmers markets often is perceived as more wholesome than what’s available on grocery shelves, there is no evidence that it is less prone to cause foodborne illness — and it generally receives less federal and local oversight. 
Each farmers market organization develops its own policies and means of enforcement, according to Stacy Miller, executive director of the Farmers Market Coalition, a nonprofit that promotes farmers markets, representing more than 3,500 markets. Prospective vendors may be required to submit an application, present proof of insurance and any relevant licenses, and be inspected, she added.

Source: msnbc.com

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