On the farm sampling

Asked June 30, 2017, 7:55 PM EDT

If I have a retail farm market and would like to provide samples of my produce or my products that I sell, what guidelines do I need to follow?

Van Buren County Michigan

1 Response

There are some simple guidelines for safe food sampling at farmers markets that the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development that would apply for your farm market and any sampling that you want to do on your farm. You can find the full resource on the MDARD website at https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mda/MDA_FdSmplngFarmMkts5-09_279110_7.pdf

Samples can be prepared on site for your customers visiting the farm market and you need some simple things to get started.

  1. First, you will need to prep this food in an area which is covered by a roof or a tent and with a floor that can be cleaned. This may be a cement floor OR a tarp over the ground.
  2. Second, you need to have a hand washing station near where you are prepping the samples. The hand washing station should have warm water that can flow freely from a spigot, soap, paper towels, and a bucket to catch the waste water. This can be accomplished with a insulated cooler.
  3. Third, you will need to have clean utensils and cutting boards for the equipment you'll use and those utensils can be used for 4 hours at a time. You should have a washable table to work on and if you cannot fully clean the surface, you should get a washable (or disposable) table cover. For the utensils, you can move the used utensils and cutting board to a separate container with other used materials OR you can set up a ware-washing station with three basins - one for soapy water, one for clean water to rinse and one for sanitizing solution. Ware should be allowed to air dry.
  4. Finally, you should have a way to keep samples that require temperature control - things like cut fruits and vegetables - under 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Other samples should be kept in a container that is covered or sealed to prevent insects and other contamination.

The final authority on your food handling is your local county health department. You shouldn't need a license because you aren't selling the samples but it would be a good idea to check with them to make sure.