State Health Department Directors' Insights into Farmers' Markets Inspection Practices and Resources

Carl Behnke, Chris Gaulke, Barbara Almanza Biblographic citation: Food Protection Trends, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 183-193, May 2016 Volume 36, Issue 3: Pages 183–193

Farmers’ markets have experienced tremendous growth in recent decades. Traditionally, they sold raw fruits and vegetables; however, today’s farmers’ markets also sell prepared, packaged, readyto- eat (RTE), and temperature controlled for safety (TCS) foods. Because of their role in monitoring the safety of food, state health department directors were surveyed with regard to types of food sold, regulations pertaining to farmers’ market vendors, types of products inspected, vendor infrastructure requirements, and their perceptions of food safety risks associated with farmers’ markets. Additionally, directors’ feedback regarding common inspection practices and state resource allocation was solicited. Results indicated that state inspection funds are, in general, declining and that state health department directors’ concerns related to vendors included unapproved product sources, poor food-handling behaviors, and inadequate employee hygiene. Directors also expressed concerns related to declining inspection resources and market deregulation at the state level.

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