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Food Safety News

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Pizza Stand at Seattle Farmers Market Shut Down for Health Violations

A pizza vendor operating at a Seattle farmers market was shut down this weekend after a health department inspection revealed multiple sanitation violations at the facility.

The Veraci Pizza, Inc. stand at the Ballard Farmers Market in Northwest Seattle closed Sunday when health officials from the King County & Seattle Health Department found that employees were not following safe food preparation procedures.

The following unsanitary conditions were found at the stand:

  • Potentially hazardous foods at unsafe temperatures
  • Inadequate facilities to control temperature of potentially hazardous food (cold holding)
  • Poor personal hygiene practices: not washing hands
  • Handwashing facilities unavailable

Food safety at farmers markets has become a growing concern as more and more farmers markets are established across the country. Rules governing these establishments vary from state to state and city to city, with some being stricter than others.

According to a 2006 survey of farmers market managers, only 14 percent of markets are regulated by state rules and bylaws.

In Seattle, vendors must apply for a Farmers Market Temporary Permit unless they are selling exempted foods, which include sliced fruits and vegetables for sampling, popcorn, corn on the cob, cotton candy, whole roasted peppers, roasted nuts and caramel apples.

The health department requires that all vendors have access to a hand washing facility with hot water, soap and paper towels. Employees must not touch ready-to-eat foods with bare hands and must wash hands  before returning to the booth from the restroom. The temperature of potentially hazardous foods must be measured frequently, and foods on display must be protected with a sneeze guard. A full list of requirements is available in the Temporary Permit Application, available here.

According to the health department’s website, the stand remains closed but is only subject to a temporary closure. The Ballard Farmers Market takes place every Sunday year-round. It is unclear whether the pizza stand will be reopened next week.

For previous Food Safety News coverage of farmers market food safety, see Safety at Farmers Markets and Fruit Stands.

© Food Safety News
  • husna

    It is strange
    that this vendor was closed for the listed violations by the local health
    department. These are the common violations that hundreds of restaurants/
    school cafeteria’s get away without closure every year thereby exposing the
    consumer to the perils of food borne illnesses!

    Let me
    explain the violations listed in the article to the average reader:

    hazardous foods (PHF) are stored at unsafe temperatures” and
    “Inadequate facilities to control temperature of potentially hazardous
    food (cold holding)”- PHF includes moist prepared foods that need special
    handling techniques (employee training in question here) and coolers/warmers at
    the facility to store the food at below 41
    ° F or above 140° F. Any food held between the listed temperatures can result in a
    food borne illness/food poisoning depending on the ingredient in the PHF.

    Personal Practices and not washing hands” is the most common violation seen in
    food workers that not only contributes as violation of HACCP, but will
    contribute to a definite viral disease transmissions and a loss of reputation
    for the facility. Sick workers that report to work in a food distribution environment
    also contribute to the same problems.




  • NO hand sink.  With no handsink there is no hand washing.  No handwasing there should be no food handling.

  • Karen_Kinney

    I am writing in response to your article on November 7, 2012
    about Veraci Pizza at the Ballard Farmers Market this past Sunday.    The Washington State Farmers Market
    Association (WSFMA) represents 112 member farmers markets around the
    state.  As a membership organization
    representing food producers, we take public health and food safety very

    In Washington State, farmers markets are owned and operated
    by a variety of entities and range from being privately owned, independent
    nonprofits, or projects of other organizations such as chambers of commerce,
    local government entities or some other group.  
    All farmers markets must comply with the applicable regulations of the
    local health department, local, regional and state agencies in Washington.  Each of the prepared food vendors at our
    member markets across the state are inspected regularly by local health department
    representatives and our managers have open working relationships with these
    professionals to make sure every vendor understands and follows the
    regulations.  In fact, it is extremely
    rare to ever have an incident of concern resulting from an onsite health

    It is WSFMA’s goal to help farmers markets continue to
    provide the highest quality, safest food to our customers.  In our investigation of the situation with
    Veraci Pizza, the health department violations were corrected immediately to
    the satisfaction of the inspector on site. 
    The management of the Ballard Farmers Market has reported their
    appreciation of speed at which Veraci Pizza addressed the issues and the
    vendor’s ability to allay any future concerns.

    Farmers markets are truly unique venues in that they provide
    opportunities for customers to buy directly from producers.  Very often customers not only know the people
    that they are buying food from, but they also know the management of markets,
    both volunteers and staff.  This
    familiarity and sense of community that is specific to markets is because of
    these relationships and the resulting bonds of trust that exist among managers,
    farmers and shoppers committed to building the highest quality food
    systems.  The Ballard Farmers Market
    understands this relationship and provides an excellent example of how market
    staff take operations seriously and worked closely and quickly with the vendor
    to make sure that regulations are followed and that customers can continue to
    buy safe food.  The result on Sunday, was
    an overwhelming show of support for the market and for Veraci Pizza.
    Karen Kinney
    Executive Director
    Washington State Farmers Market Association

  • Message from Errin Byrd (co-owner of Veraci)
    we apologize for this. We actually fixed each issue and reopened within minutes
    of being closed down. In 8 years this has never happened and we feel very
    disappointed by this…but we feel we should explain in detail what happened:
    We ran out of paper towels at our hand washing station. We had hot water and
    soap but no paper towels.  The staff had
    paper napkins next to the hand washing station as a temporary solution but this
    was inadequate.   We quickly fixed this
    by borrowing some paper towels from another vendor and reopened in less than 5

    We also had our garlic olive
    oil out past the 2 hour time limit that we assign…by 20 minutes. The health
    department’s standard for time as a control is 4 hours but we assign a shorter
    amount of time in order to guarantee it is safe. However, since it was past our
    guidelines, we were out of compliance. We also had two items on our pizza
    making line that were a few degrees higher than 41. We threw these items out. 

    We will be getting a new permit and will be back next week.  We met with the health department this week
    to discuss the strategies we plan to employ to make certain this never happens
    again.   We are very sorry and want our fans to know
    that we take public health very seriously and will be using this as a learning
    opportunity to further train our employees. 

    Please call me direct if you have
    any questions. 206.898.0309. Errin