New law benefits vendors

MT. VERNON — The Jefferson County Health Department is now allowing Cottage Food Industry vendors to make certain products for retail without having their kitchen inspected….

MT. VERNON — — The Jefferson County Health Department is now allowing Cottage Food Industry vendors to make certain products for retail without having their kitchen inspected.

Certain jams, jellies, preserves, fruit butters, baked goods and dried foods can be produced in a home kitchen instead and sold at farmers’ markets.

Prior to this decree, vendors had to make sure their kitchens were not attached to their living quarters and each kitchen had to be inspected by the health department, said Gary Ashby, director of environmental health for the Jefferson County Health Department.

“If we inspect them, its like a commercial-type kitchen,” Ashby said.

Under the new law, vendors are required to have a list of ingredients on their products and they also have to register with the health department for the county they live in, but can sell their products at any farmers market, Ashby explained.

“They can still sell fruits and vegetables without being inspected,” he said. “They do have to have a food service management certificate, although most people who work in rest have already have it.”

There is a $35 charge for each year associated with inspection costs and additional costs for food safety management courses.

There are some restrictions under the new law, Ashby pointed out. Vendors can only sell pies, jellies or jams that have fruit in them.

“The high acid in the fruit helps kill bacteria,” Ashby said.

Custard pies that have to be refrigerated are not allowed or any type of food that may have dangerous fillings or toppings that could cause allergic reactions.

Vendors must also have a sign displayed which states their kitchen was not inspected by the health department.

Ashby said having the kitchen inspected does not take very long; after an appointment is made, vendors kitchen’s can be inspected and registered within a day, Ashby said.

Mike Kell, manager for the farmers market at Times Square Mall, said the health department is implementing news rules and restrictions for all Illinois counties.

“It’s been kind of confusing,” he said. “Different counties have different rules.”

The Jefferson County farmers market was exempt from some of the restrictions that were put in place by other counties, such as labeling products.

In the past, some counties required that vendors have their kitchens inspected before they were allowed to sell any product. Kell said that vendors have to have made the product themselves, they are not allowed to buy items and resell them. Item include any jellies, jams, breads or pies, Kell said.

“It’s on you to do what is legal and what’s right,” Kell said.

He added that kitchens could not be connected to the residence of living quarters of the vendors house, it had to be in a separate building.

Vendors do have a to fill out an application if they wish to sell items at the market.

The farmers market will be opening May 18.

For more information on registration or restrictions and rules call the Jefferson County Health Department at 244-7134 or visit jeffcohealth.com.

Read more http://register-news.com/local/x280094810/New-law-benefits-vendors

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