Food Safety Practices at Farmer’s Markets
Public appreciation for Farmer’s Markets is rapidly on the rise, as some argue that they provide the freshest of vegetables, fruits and even meats. Buying organic foods and other such products from Farmer’s Markets has become a regular part of the many American families’ grocery shopping schedule. But with their proliferation, it is important to keep in mind a few practical food safety tips when shopping at Farmer’s Markets.
Any meat and meat products sold at Farmer’s Markets should be stored in clean, air tight coolers with the proper amount of ice. Like all other perishables, meat must be refrigerated at all times, and even after purchase, within an hour if the external temperature is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, or within 2 hours if the external temperature is somewhat lower than the afore-mentioned temperature. This means bringing a cooler or an insulated type of container is recommended when buying meat or other perishable foods from a Farmer’s Markets, to store those meats or other perishables after purchase for the transit home.
Vegetables and Fruits
Organic production may have benefits, but it also carries risk. During harvesting, harmful foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria, Norovirus, parasites like cyclospora, and E. coli can contaminate vegetables and fruits from the use of fertilizers (like organic manure), water, the presence of insects (often organic foods are grown without pesticides), or even the soil. In addition, there is little guarantee as to how long ago the products have been harvested or how long they have been in transit – often farmer’s market producers ado not follow the rigorous schedules that commercial crop growers have. In addition, these producers may not be subject to the inspection or certification of major producers,
These following tips will help prevent catching of the afore-mentioned harmful pathogens:
- Arrive early to Farmer’s Markets before the fresh produce is picked over as a reliable way to obtain the freshest looking produce and avoid diseased fruits or vegetables.
- Post purchase, be sure to wash all the fruits and vegetables thoroughly, before slicing, peeling or consumption.
- Avoid any fruits or vegetables with bruises, scratches or mold. When cut or peeled, pathogens that’s present on the outside of the produce can be transferred to the exterior, increasing the chances of a foodborne illness.
Fresh eggs are a hot commodity at Farmer’s markets, but pose a threat due to likely Salmonella contamination and other dangerous pathogens. Eggs should always be refrigerated at a maximum temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Look for cracks or broken shells, and avoid buying these.
Purchasing from Farmer’s Market’s may be a healthy choice for some American families, but is more likely to remain a safe practice when the afore-mentioned tips are strictly adhered to.