Beginning July 1, local South Dakota food vendors that work out of their home kitchens and not commercial kitchens are now required to label their products with ingredients, contact information, and submit their recipes for testing to help ensure better safety.
“In this day in age with looking at food safety and allergies, we want to protect producers and consumers,” said State Representative Jacqueline Sly, R-Rapid City, the prime sponsor of the bill that became law. “I know it’s a little more work, but in the long run it would be worth it if there were people who got sick.”
Black Hills Farmers Market Manager Leonard Novak said Black Hills, statewide vendors, and Dakota Rural Action, a political advocacy group, worked with Sly, the state health department, and the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service to establish rules needed since there were none in place, reported the Rapid City Journal.
Novak said Hot Springs vendor Ranee Priem helped testify in front of a committee in Pierre in favor of the legislation.
Priem, who produces and sells jams, pickles, relishes, and salsa through her business Cascade Farms, said “it is extra work but it also gives us flexibility to work out of our kitchen instead of working out a commercial kitchen.” She believes the new law has advantages and disadvantages for local food producers.
People who can certain foods are required by state officials to have their products and canning methods tested to ensure the thermal process is adequate. The producer will receive a letter of verification if approved.
Priem said she has sent in her recipes to the state department and is waiting to hear back.
Novak has been managing the Black Hills Farmers Market for 10 years and has not seen nor heard about any problems with local vendors’ canned goods. He said about 90-95 percent of the vendors at Founders Park on Omaha Street are either working to receive their state verification or already have it.
Sly said local vendors statewide continue to work with the Department of Health to get to common ground on what is covered and what the needs producers and consumers have.
Although compliance doesn’t seem to be an issue for Black Hill Farmers Market vendors, officials have been holding meetings across the state to explain the rules and verification process as some are finding loopholes in the new law.
“There are a lot of people who really haven’t learned properly,” said Joan Hegerfeld-Baker, an Extension food safety specialist in Brookings. “There are shortcuts people are starting to use that are not safe. You want people to use safe, tested methods.”
As the new law begins to take shape throughout the state, Sly said it will help promote local food markets.
“This is just another step to make it viable and I think our local foods are something South Dakota has huge potential for growth in,” Sly said. “People have become more aware of the value of buying locally with money staying here and helping support local producers.”