Application Guidelines for Farmers' Market Vendors

A farmers’ market is a central location at which the majority of vendors are farmers or producers offering for sale their own products. Markets within Niagara are reviewed yearly by Niagara Region Public Health to determine if at least 51 per cent of vendors are farmers or producers. This ensures that the operation is by definition, a true farmers’ market.

Full compliance with the following requirements is required for all farmers’ market vendors. Niagara Region Public Health will refuse to approve your participation at the farmers’ market if full compliance is not met or observed.

Food Safety Requirements

You must provide the following items based on the service being provided.

Food Transportation and Storage

  • Hazardous foods must be transported at 4°C (40°F) or lower for cold held foods, or 60°C (140°F) or higher for hot held foods
  • Foods are to be covered during transportation to protect them from dust, dirt, insects, foreign objects and debris
  • Food is to be transported and stored in food-grade containers that are not used for any other purpose
  • Raw meats must be kept separate from cooked meats, vegetables or any ready-to-eat foods
  • Food and food supplies must be raised 15cm (6 inches) off the ground

Mechanical Refrigeration

  • Mechanical refrigeration is required onsite and must be able to maintain hazardous foods at or below 4°C (40°F)

Sanitizing Surfaces

  • Sanitizer must be available onsite at all times
  • Wiping cloths must be stored in sanitizer buckets or single use disposable cloths utilized with spray bottles. Sanitizer can be made by mixing 1tsp bleach to 1L water.

Utensil Wash

  • A two compartment sink or two containers large enough to accommodate the size of the food service utensils must be available to wash, rinse and then submerge utensils in sanitizer
  • Potable water, detergent and sanitizer must be onsite
  • Bring multiple sets of utensils

Food Handlers

  • Wash your hands. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water before handling food, after handling money or raw meats, after each break. Hand washing should occur every time after your hands may have become contaminated.
  • Food handlers must not work if they are ill
  • Food handlers must wear clean clothing and adequate hair restraints
  • Smoking is prohibited within the food preparation area
  • Minimize direct food handling by using tongs or utensils
  • Use detergent and sanitizer to clean all food contact surfaces
  • Gloves and hand-gel sanitizers are not a substitute for proper hand washing

Temporary Hand Wash Station

  • A potable water source must be accessible onsite. If you don’t have access to a plumbed sink for hand washing, a temporary hand wash station must be set up.
  • Fill a camping jug or coffee urn with warm water
  • Must have a spigot that can remain open on its own (without manually holding it open with your hand)
  • Liquid soap in a dispenser and paper towels must be available
  • Container to collect the waste water. Waste water must be disposed of in a sanitary manner in an approved location.

Sampling

  • Single serving utensils, squeeze bottles or individual serving portions only
  • Samples must be kept covered and protected from cross-contamination (i.e. sneeze guard)
  • Hazardous samples must be maintained at 4°C (40°F) or hot held above 60°C (140°F)

General Information

  • What is a farm product?

    Farm products are products that are grown or produced on a farm. Typically, this includes fruits, vegetables, herbs, honey and maple products.

  • What is a community market?

    A community market is a market where most of the vendors are not farmers, but are commercial vendors. A community market must be in compliance with all aspects of Ontario Food Premise Regulation 562.

  • What is a commercial food vendor?

    A commercial vendor is a person that offers for sale any processed food item and is not a farmer. A commercial vendor typically prepares food, including but not limited to hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches, raw or processed meats and poultry, baked goods, eggs, soups, salads, perogies, spring rolls, pastries and cookies, etc.

  • What is a hazardous food?

    A hazardous food is a product that is capable of supporting the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms or toxin producing bacteria. This includes any meat, poultry, fish, dairy, cider or any other product that contains mixtures of these. All of these products must be stored and transported at or below 4°C (40°F).

  • What types of hazardous foods are allowed at the market?

    All hazardous food products must be obtained from a government inspected facility and bear the appropriate stamps, tag or label. Vendors must be able to provide receipts to verify they were obtained from approved sources.

  • Are home prepared foods permitted at a farmers' market?

    Yes. The Ontario Food Premise Regulation 562 provides certain exemptions for farmers' markets. One of these exemptions is that vendors at a farmers' market can offer for sale non-hazardous homemade products such as baked goods and fruit jams / jellies. Home prepared foods are not allowed at community markets.

  • How do I get approved to sell home prepared foods?

    Contact Niagara Region Public Health and speak with an inspector to discuss the products you wish to sell, preparation methods involved and how the product is to be stored.

    If you are on a private water supply such as well or cistern, satisfactory water sample test results will be required on a yearly basis.

    Water sample bottles and testing is provided free of charge and available at numerous sites throughout Niagara Region. This testing is provided free of charge. An inspection of the home based operation may be conducted to ensure that production of the product is done in a sanitary environment.

  • If I prepare non-hazardous foods at my home can I sell them to stores or at special events?

    No. A special exemption is provided at farmers' markets to allow vendors to sell non-hazardous home prepared products.

    This exemption is not applicable to any other commercial facilities or events. The purpose of this exemption was to allow farmers at a farmers market to sell a variety of products made from their own produce or fruit (i.e. jams, jellies, pies).

  • Can I prepare a hazardous food product and sell them at the market?

    Yes. Hazardous foods are allowed to be sold at the market. All hazardous foods must be properly handled, stored, transported and prepared in an inspected facility or onsite at the market.

  • What are inspected facilities?

    Inspected facilities are usually commercial kitchens (restaurants), community centres or churches that are regularly inspected by the local health department.

    If you intend to lease or use a commercial kitchen, Niagara Region Public Health may ask for a copy of the agreement between the vendor and commercial kitchen.

  • How should my products be labelled?

    All foods that are sold in a packaged form are to be labelled with the manufacturer's name, address, phone number and the date prepared.

    Contact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency at 1-800-667-2657 for information regarding ingredient labelling.

Vendor Application

This application must be submitted at least one month prior to the markets opening.

Apply to be a farmers' market vendor


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