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.