It does not happen often but today I woke up unable to face working the farmers market. Being yelled at on a weekly basis can wear on a person. Rather than go and just go through the motions I called my coworker and cancelled. My mind would not have been in the game and it would have been easier to make a critical error in an inspection. Rather than risk it we rescheduled for next week.
I understand about the perception of government interfering in people's lives. Really, I do. I have read Joel Salatin and Sharon Astyk and grasp the concept of the informal economy. A farmers market is a "grey area".
Many of the items do not need to be regulated, soaps, crafts, whole produce and a myriad of other items. However, if people are going to consume it and it has been cooked, cut, packaged or processed in any way you need a permit. There are exceptions- non potentially hazardous baked goods, honey, jams and jellies do not need a permit. Everything else- PERMIT required. Most of the people at the market do have proper permits and are in compliance. The paragraphs below apply to those who are not permitted or are permitted and simply want to do their own thing.
Please, don't tell me about how other countries don't make people get permits. We are in the United States and we require permitting here. Until the laws change permits will continue to be required. Please, don't argue with me by "sharing" your superior knowledge of biology, microbiology, medicine, intestinal flora and food history. I try hard not to be condescending to you in an inspection and believe it or not we inspectors are pretty well versed in pathogens specific to the foods in question. Many foods that were considered safe 100 years ago are no longer regarded as such today. Non pasteurized Apple Juice, for the young and immunodeficient, is a prime example of this due to patulin spores in the juice.
Please, please, please allow me to explain why you need a permit or why you need to change anything before coming at me with guns a blazing. I know you are threatened. I know I am asking you to do something differently and change is scary. I am also aware that these changes may cost you money. In fact we normally try to help you figure out options that cost as little money as possible.
Please, pretty please, don't ask me to ignore the law. I can't. No, honestly, if you are doing something illegal I can't be just as illegal and not deal with it properly. Looking the other way so you can operate is just as illegal as you not acquiring the proper permits or following safe handling practices.
What it comes down to is this; People selling foods need to be educated on food safety. Proper holding temperatures, why hand-washing with hot water is essential, knowledge of the pathogens specific to the food being sold, awareness of allergens specific to the food being sold and protecting food being sold from contamination. By ignoring any of these you can make a consumer ill, very ill and in some cases- especially allergens, even kill them.
It always amazes me the number of people who do not wash their hands after handling cash and then they turn around touch the food you will eat. Studies have shown e-coli, and staph can not only be transferred by money but also can remain alive for up to 72 hours on paper money. The following link explains the study: http://journals.lww.com/ajnonline/Fulltext/2011/12000/Original_Research__Survival_of_Bacterial_Pathogens.22.aspx