Legislature clarifies farmer market requirements

By Charley Shaw, Session Daily

Minnesota’s food safety laws would be specifically tailored to address farmers markets under a bill headed to Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk.

Sponsored by Rep. Bob Barrett, R-Lindstrom, and Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, was passed 129-0 by the House late Wednesday. Senators passed it 55-0 Thursday.

“There are over 100 (farmers markets) in our state, probably every county in the state,” Barrett said. “They’re a good community resource to us.”

Barrett introduced the bill after constituents who run the Chisago City Farmers Market sought clarity to state laws that govern how food is handled at their market.

The bill would create a new section devoted to farmers markets in Minnesota law that deals with licensing food handlers. It would specify how food samples and cooking demonstrations at farmers markets should be regulated.

Farmers would be required to provide regulatory agencies with information upon request such as the source of the food and the equipment used to prepare it.

The bill was amended in the House to address food safety regulations for chili cook-offs. The chili amendment was crafted in response to cook-off contestants who were denied participation because they couldn’t fulfill food preparation rules.

In an amendment successfully offered by Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby, organizations would be exempt if they follow rules including being approved by the local municipality and developing food safety rules.

Shaw writes for the nonpartisan Session Daily (www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily) in the Minnesota House Public Information Office.

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