Coalition promotes legal food vending

By From page A8 | September 06, 2013

Public and private organizations participating in the “Protect Local Growers Campaign” are reminding El Dorado County residents that roadside food vending is illegal, and potentially unsafe. So what does it take to legally sell agricultural commodities or processed food items in El Dorado County?

“It probably comes as no surprise that legal requirements for agricultural commodities and processed food items vary depending on the items being sold,” said Gerri Silva, Director of the County Environmental Management Division.

A variety of options exist for vendors interested in selling fresh fruits, nuts or vegetables grown on their property. Agricultural vendors selling at a farmers’ market must obtain a Certified Producers Certificate Form from the County Agricultural Department. Vendors may also sell from their own property where the produce is grown, but zoning and off street parking requirements may apply. Both of these options allow exemption from many of the state and federal standard container and produce size requirements. Vendors selling directly to grocery stores and other retail markets must meet standard container, size and labeling requirements. The California Department of Food and Agriculture requires a Nursery License to sell plants or cut flowers. Egg vendors must also register with CDFA and meet labeling, grading and refrigeration requirements.

Mobile food vendors including food carts and lunch wagons must have a valid food facility permit from the County Environmental Management Division. Obtaining a permit requires a food facility plan and an inspection. Vendors must have access to restroom and hand washing facilities.

“Safe food handling protects public health,” said Silva. “Before selling any food items, it’s best to check with the appropriate county departments.”

Agricultural vendors should contact the Agriculture Department at 530-621-5520. Prepared food vendors should contact the Environmental Management Division at 530-621-5300. Additional information is available on the county Website at To report suspected illegal roadside vendors call the county hotline at 530-642-4968.

Mike Applegarth

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