In South Dakota new legislation went into effect July 1 allowing the creation of new rules and regulations on organic food sold in farmers markets. The regulations were created by the state Department of Health in tandem with the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service.
The rules state, “Many growers and specialty food entrepreneurs in South Dakota are adding value to the fresh, whole fruits and vegetables grown in South Dakota. Whole raw fruits and vegetables can currently be sold without any regulatory requirements. Once a raw fruit and/or a vegetable has been processed, specific requirements need to be followed to ensure the safety of the product.”
These rules will apply to people selling goods not produced in a commercial kitchen. They require individuals who sell home-canned goods to have their preparation methods and products tested to ensure an adequate thermal process. Producers of most food items will be required to label their products.
The labeling rules state: “Each food container sold must have a label that contains the following: name of the product, producer, and contact information, date the product was made or processed, ingredients (list ingredients in the product from the largest to the smallest in net weight or volume; actual weight or volume of ingredients do not need to be listed; a disclaimer that states the following: ‘This product was not produced in a commercial kitchen. It has been home processed in a kitchen that may also process common food allergens such as tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, soy, wheat, milk, fish and crustacean shellfish.'”
As officials have been holding meetings across the state explaining these new certification and labeling regulations, they have met both opponents and proponents of the measures. Some producers don’t think they can afford to have all their methods and products tested and labeled.
Other producers, such as Ruth Neuberger, support the new rules. She has been selling a variety of products at farmers markets since 1978. She thinks that her fellow producers may be using unsafe practices. “They need training, which they probably never had from a professional,” she told Foodmanufacturing.com.
South Dakota lawmakers are divided over the issue. State Representative Bernie Hunhoff (D) thinks that everyone involved has good intentions but that producers may face an unfair uphill battle, “There are a lot more hoops to jump through than I imagined.” He worries that so many regulations may discourage citizens from producing and selling food at farmers markets.
Hunhoff said the regulations are an example of big government creeping in on small farmers, but other legislators take another perspective.
Joan Hergerfeld-Baker, an Extension food safety specialist, helped construct the new rules. She sees them as vital steps towards protecting consumers from sub-par production methods. “There are a lot of people who really haven’t learned properly. There are shortcuts people are starting to use that are not safe,” she told Foodmanufacturing.com. “You want people to use safe, tested methods,” she said.
The new regulations will apply to all foods except baked foods that don’t contain a custard-type filling and home-canned goods that don’t need refrigeration and are acidified products.
The full text of the new regulations can be found here.