[Market-farming] Ohio market farmer cited for washing raw produce

Road's End Farm organic87 at frontiernet.net
Thu Oct 29 15:16:42 EDT 2009

On Oct 29, 2009, at 1:06 PM, Marie Kamphefner wrote:

>> Earlier this week it was brought to our attention that a vendor in 
>> Lake County [OHIO] was cited by the local board of health for selling 
>> “washed” vegetables and greens. The local health department official 
>> was enforcing a new interpretation of food safety rules that assumed 
>> washing greens with water was “food processing” and a farmer who was 
>> not a licensed “processor” washing them was making an “adulterated” 
>> (unsafe) product.

Was he selling them as "washed ready to eat"?

Or was it just that he had rinsed them off to get the field dirt off?

It's my understanding that those are two different categories and that 
for "washed ready to eat" you may indeed need a food processing 
license, at least in New York State. If you've just washed them to get 
the field dirt off, but are not telling the customer it doesn't have to 
be washed again when they get it home, that's different. It sounds as 
if the inspector may have gotten carried away and confused "washed 
ready to eat" with "rinsed the mud off". -- at any rate, I hope it's 
just that inspector!

When customers ask if the produce is washed, I always say "New York 
State tells me that I have to tell you to wash everything! We just 
rinsed it quickly to get the mud/dust off. "

As far as the water goes: certified organic growers are required to use 
for produce wash water only sources that pass an annual potable water 
test. As far as I know, there's no such requirement for conventional 
growers; but it's not a bad idea to get one. Many people have no idea 
that their household or farm wells are contaminated; their own systems 
are used to the bacteria that's in there, so they don't get sick 
themselves, and assume that the water is fine.

-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
Fresh-market organic produce, small scale
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