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Purdue professor provides farmers market 're-fresher' for buyers and sellers

June 14, 2017
farmers market scene

It’s that time of year when fresh produce and specialty foods are now seasonably abundant and with rising temperatures comes the rise of food safety concerns for buyers and sellers.

Ever notice how quickly berries mold after you wash them?

 “Try to avoid washing fresh produce before you sell,” says Amanda Deering, assistant professor in Purdue University’s Department of Food Science. “This extends the shelf-life and prevents a warm, moist environment that encourages growth of bacteria and mold. If you want to make your produce look pretty before you take it to market, just brush the dirt off with a dry cloth and keep your produce cool and dry as possible.”

Deering recommends vendors put up a sign to advise customers to wash the produce before they eat it.

Consumers should cool the produce when they get home and then wash right before eating it. When using a vegetable brush, make sure the brush is cleaned afterward or you could contaminate other produce.

Vendors and consumers can review the Home-Based Vendors Basics at http://www.in.gov/isdh/files/hbv-presentation-3-8-2017.pdf for information and reminders from the Indiana State Department of Health.

The goal is to encourage the safe production and sales of certain foods such as baked goods, candies, fruits, vegetables, nuts and syrups that do not present an appreciable health risk. It also is designed to prevent the production and sale of potentially hazardous foods, including those that contain meat, dairy, cut or cooked produce, sprouts, some garlic-in-oil mixtures, jerky and pickles.

If you see products or practices that look questionable, contact the area market master.

The Indiana State Department of Health and local health departments inspect area markets, at times requiring vendor samples. If you see someone carrying a clipboard at a market, don’t assume there’s an issue, Deering says. It could be that an official is simply conducting a routine market assessment to ensure food safety.

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