Farmers' Market Guidelines
Many, but not all, products sold at farmers’ markets require the vendor to obtain a license from the Chester County Health Department (CCHD).
Vendors may obtain an annual license to operate or a temporary license to operate. Vendors are eligible for a temporary license if they operate for no more than fourteen (14) calendar days in one fixed location. (When foods prepared at another location are part of a vendor’s food operation, that other location also must be licensed as a food facility by the food licensing agency having jurisdiction at that location. Proof of licensing is required for facilities outside of Chester County.)
- Vendor Plan Review Application for the Farmers’ Markets must be submitted for Department review at least thirty (30) days prior to the first proposed sale date.
- Changes and/or additions to CCHD-approved items must be submitted for Department review and approval at least seven (7) days prior to the first proposed sale date.
Whole, uncut fresh fruits and vegetables- No license is required.
Honey- Licenses are not required for the sale of honey.
Processed non-potentially hazardous foods- Baked goods, jams, jellies, preserves, shelf stable salsas and salad dressings, vinegars, oils, frozen berries and cherries, dried herbs, and dehydrated fruits and vegetables are examples of common farmers' market products that must be processed in a licensed facility. Many non-potentially hazardous foods are made in a home setting. This is acceptable as long as the home is registered and under inspection by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA). While no license is needed for the sale of processed non-potentially hazardous foods, a review of proposed foods shall be conducted to ensure foods are from an approved source.
Products that are considered potentially hazardous may NOT be made in a personal home kitchen.
Processed potentially hazardous foods- A license is required for processed potentially hazardous foods such as fresh salsa, cheeses and other dairy products that are not shelf stable. Any vendor wishing to sell raw milk or cheeses must obtain a PA Department of Agriculture Fluid Raw Milk or Manufactured Raw Milk Cheese Aged 60 Days Permit. All consumer advisory and general labeling requirements must be satisfied as well.
Seafood- A license is required for vendors selling fish and shellfish. Molluscan shellfish (oysters, clams, scallops, etc) - vendors must follow strict rules for product identification and dating. Molluscan shellfish that are recreationally caught may not be sold or served to the public.
Meat and poultry- A license is required for vendors selling meat and poultry. Proof that the meat was processed in a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) licensed facility is required for beef, pork, lamb and certain quantities of poultry. Smaller operations may be exempt from the USDA inspection requirements. New meat producers should consult with USDA before starting such operations.
Eggs- A license is required for vendors selling eggs. Egg containers must comply with PDA and CCHD labeling requirements (name and address of producer, date of lay, statement of identity [eggs], net contents, "keep refrigerated" notification, unclassified identification if not provided with grade and size and egg handling instructions). Eggs must be maintained at ≤45°F at farmers' markets.
Restaurant foods/food service (on-site preparation)- All vendors preparing foods on-site for immediate consumption in Chester County are required to obtain an annual mobile E/D license or temporary license for the event.
Samples -A license may not be needed to sample small “bite-sized” portions of food offered for promotional or educational purposes. However, all food sampling and/or cooking demonstrations must be pre-approved by the CCHD. Vendors must be in compliance with the current edition of the FDA Model Food Code (“Food Code”) and ensure the CCHD Sampling Guidelines are followed. Vendors offering samples in Chester County must also display the CCHD Sampling Notice (or other CCHD approved notice) indicating that samples are not regulated by the CCHD pursuant to the Food Code (3-601.12). Samples may not be offered if notice is not provided in public view. The CCHD reserves the right to review sampling procedures to ensure they are accomplished in a safe and sanitary manner. If an immediate health threat is observed, the CCHD has the authority to require the vendor to cease operations and corrective actions be submitted/approved prior to resuming sampling operations. If sampling operations exceed what the CCHD views as sampling and/or if repeated violations are observed, the CCHD reserves the right to require licensure and/or prohibit sampling.
Restaurant foods/food service (off-site preparation) -A fixed restaurant may prepare and individually wrap foods such as sandwiches in a licensed kitchen for sale at a farmers' market. This type of operation will require a mobile retail, Public Eating and Drinking or a temporary event license. Handwashing facilities at the market may be required pending further review of the specific operation.
Petting Zoos- Petting zoos and similar collections of animals accessible to the public are regulated by the CCHD Rules and Regulations Chapter 200, Subsection 202 (Veterinary Public Health and Zoonotic Disease). Any plans for a petting zoo or similar collection of animals accessible to the public must first be approved in writing by CCHD.
Certified Food Manager
All vendors who are required to obtain a Public Eating or Drinking license must employ at least one person who is certified as a Certified Food Manager. Anyone wishing to become certified must attend a CCHD-approved course in food safety and apply for the certificate provided by the Department.
The Certified Food Manager's responsibilities include:
- Supervision and instruction of food service workers in the techniques of sanitary food handling and the proper maintenance of the food facilities
- Monitoring and removal of any food service worker with signs of active illness from the food facility
Enforcement for Sale of Adulterated and/or Unapproved FoodsIf a vendor is observed selling unapproved foods:
- Vendor has the option to leave the event with product, including those found to be in violation.
- A notice of Violation Report and/or Cease and Desist Order will be issued to the vendor indicating that a Non-Traffic Citation will be issued.
- Vendor has the option to stay at the event and continue operation:
- Unapproved foods must be confiscated by the Environmental Health Inspector.
- If vendor does not comply, then a Cease and Desist Order for all operations will be issued
- If applicable, Cease and Desist Order will be included in the report for Market Coordinator.
- Non-Traffic citations will be issued for non-compliance.