I got a big manilla envelope in the mail today from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Turns out they sent us our exempt processor certificate for eggs and on-farm poultry processing.
Now we’re A-OK to sell eggs (on and off farm) and farm-processed poultry (only sold directly on-farm).
Thanksgiving turkeys: check!
Still to go:
Mobile retail food handlers license
Retail food handlers license (Farm Store)
County building permits to remodel the Farm Store.
I’ve been talking/emailing our regional MDA inspector and have learned that there are some flatly ridiculous requirements that the MDA has for selling meat and eggs at a farmers market.
Eggs really aren’t that bad, at least compared to meat. To sell eggs at a farmers market, you must candle and grade them, label them and sell them from a cooler with ice packs (reasonable so far…)
BUT If you’re going to have that cooler out for more than 4 hours total (and what farmers market isn’t more than 4 hours including transport time?) then the MDA has decreed that you’ll need to have your eggs in a commercial refrigerator that is constantly plugged in, even during transport.
Apparently requiring that eggs be kept under 40°F just won’t cut the mustard around here. After your arbitrary 4 hours are up it’s into Mr. Fridge with ya!
As I mentioned, meat is even worse.
First: there is something called a P-L Exemption for selling meat. The P-L Exemption (as far as I can tell) allows you to sell meat at a farmers market without getting a Mobile Retail Food Handlers Permit. The problem is that the P-L Exemption doesn’t apply to bacon or sausage (or similar multi-ingredient products) because not every single ingredient was produced on the farm.
Why does the provenance of the salt or spices in the sausage or bacon matter? I have no idea, but MDA says it does, so tough cookies.
Since bacon and sausage are part of the plan, a Mobile Retail Food Handlers Permit is in the cards for us.
But a P-L Exemption won’t get you around the other lovely requirements that MDA has outlined.
Selling meat out of a cooler? Not in this state pal.
The MDA requires that meat be sold from a commercial freezer or refrigerator (depending if it’s fresh or frozen). That appliance must be plugged in all the time, even on the road.
But the best part is:
"It is best to keep your meat items at the licensed processing facility and pick them up when you go to the Farmer's Markets, as we do not allow folks to keep product at their home."
That’s right! We can’t even be trusted to keep our own meat at home in a freezer (even a commercial one)! So we have to drive all over the state to pick up our meat EVERY TIME we go to a farmers market. And then, presumably, drive back to deposit what we didn’t sell before heading home.
I got a little clarification, and the MDA requires meat to be stored at an establishment with a Retail Food Handlers License (apparently mobile licenses don’t count for storing things). So we technically could find somewhere close to home that already has a license and lease freezer space from them.
That or get our own Farm Store…
I’ll just keep reminding myself that it could be MUCH worse.
We could be trying to sell raw milk in Minnesota.