Texas law to aide farmers markets, has health officials concerned
A new Texas law will help promote the state’s farmers markets, but the legislation has health officials concerned.
The law, which went into effect Sept. 1, allows farmers market vendors to provide food samples and offer cooking demonstrations to attract customers, according to local news source KXXV-TV.
“If you taste it and you know its good, you know people will open their wallets… which is good for us,” Virginia Kessel, the manager of a farmers market in Killeen, Texas, told the TV station.
But George Highsmith, supervisor of the Bell County Heath District, is worried that allowing farmers markets to hand out samples may be a determent to public health, the TV station reports. Produce can be mishandled, diseases can easily spread and vendors, who are not held up to regulatory standards, can make mistakes.
This has prompted discussions on regulating farmers markets like restaurants according to the TV station. Highsmith admits there are difficulties in regulating farmers markets, given their transient nature and the budgetary shortfalls of the health district. He says that if the state were to pass any regulations, those regulations would ultimately be up to local governments to enforce.
The law is one of 600 new ordinances that went into effect on Sunday, according to local paper, the Star-Telegram. Other laws included promoting school breakfasts and allowing baked goods to be sold from homes.