Changes on the way for food vendors at farmers’ markets - Jan. 24, 2013
Barb Rayner/Courier file
Benjamin Hamilton tackles a fruit crepe picked up at the Saint Andrews Market in this 2012 file photo. New regulations may force vendors to spend as much as $250 to be licenced to serve food at each market they participate in.
Changes are on the way for food vendors who sell items at farmers’ markets but the details are still being finalized by the Department of Public Health.
“Public Health’s new requirements for markets will protect the health of the public by helping to reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses,” said Jennifer Graham, communications officer with the department.
“Public Health has been meeting with market operators and vendors to educate them about these new requirements and address questions and concern.
“Working through these challenges together beforehand will make implementation easier. Public Health is aiming to have the new guidelines in place this summer.”
Gary Sturgeon, who manages the St. Stephen farmers’ market, said the new regulations will affect all food vendors in some way but there will be different classes of licences.
“It is up in the air right now but the Department of Health is definitely going to take an active role in the markets. It is probably a good thing because with the amount of e-coli and stuff we have today we definitely need regulations to follow.
“It does not look like it is going to affect charitable organizations. They will have to have a licence but it will be very inexpensive for them. It is not going to affect them as much as the regular food vendor.”
Anybody serving hot food at the market is going to be affected, said Sturgeon, and he is concerned about a possible licence fee of $250 which would each vendor would be required to obtain for each market.
“That is a lot. What we are hoping is that there would be one licence to attend the three Charlotte County markets. I think that would put it within range for a lot of people.”
As a market manager, Sturgeon said it is great that he will have regulations he can follow so there is a lot of positive in this although there is still some work to be done.
“Food vendors bring people to the market. We have to have them in order to make it worthwhile. People come for the food and that helps the non-food vendors.
“Last year was the first really successful year for our market and we are hoping this year we will have more food vendors. I think once you get the rules and regulations sorted out that will help.”
Sturgeon said that a meeting with a representative from Health Protection Branch to discuss the proposed regulations was very productive and the province is very willing to work with the market operators.
St. George Coun. Faith Avery, who chairs the town’s town pride/tourism committee, said she also attended the meeting recently with a representative from the Health Protection Branch. The St. George farmers’ market was just revived this past summer and is still growing, she said.
“As far as I am concerned, we are not worried because these regulations are just in the process and they are asking for our input. We are happy about that because they want to work with us.”
Last year, said Avery, there were only a couple of food vendors at the market but they are hoping there will be more this year. She said she was also concerned about the possible $250 licence for food vendors which would have to be paid for each market they attend.
“It would be unfortunate if they had to choose which community has something to offer. Being in Charlotte County, we felt it should be a Charlotte County umbrella and the $250 fee would cover all three markets.”
John Allen, president of Saint Andrews Farmers Market Inc, said the proposed regulations have been put out to their vendors and the board is waiting for reaction but guidelines are always better than working in a vacuum.