Due to a noticeable rise in the number of roadside food vendors who are not operating within food safety regulations, El Dorado County today announced a new education and outreach campaign to help consumers understand the possible negative consequences associated with purchasing produce from illegal roadside vendors.
Roadside food vendors are those that set up tables in public, commercial areas, are not as part of a farmers market, and most notably, sell whole or cut fruit. The campaign seeks to educate the public about the possible health risks of purchasing produce from illegal roadside vendors and, in turn, help support law-abiding local growers in the County.
“Although locally-grown produce can be sold where grown on-site when part of a permitted mobile vendor license or at a certified farmers market, the vendors we’re concerned about are those setting up in commercial areas or in the public right-of-way,” said Jeffrey Warren, Director of the Environmental Management Department. “In addition to operation outside the licensed requirements of the County, these operations often violate sanitation and labor practices and the consumer has no way of knowing the risk they may be taking when purchasing from these vendors.”
Mobile food vendors that are licensed by the County will be encouraged to affix a clearly visible, brightly colored sticker provided by the Environmental Management Department to help consumers easily determine whether the vendor is following all health and sanitation guidelines. An image of the sticker is below.
“This campaign gives consumers a new and easy way to determine which mobile food vendors have been inspected by environmental health professionals for food safety and allows for a more informed choice about where to purchase such food, ” said Warren.
Risks from roadside produce include consuming food that is not in compliance with being from approved sources, safe handling, pesticide, refrigeration, packaging, labeling requirements, and possible food borne illnesses.
“Pest importation and spread may also occur in roadside vendor operations which have eluded compliance inspections,” said County Agricultural Commissioner, Charlene Carveth.
Officials say the best way to reduce the risks associated from unregulated food is to become a customer of our local certified farmers’ markets which sell seasonal, local certified produce from the growers themselves which will now be indicated by the new sticker, or to visit one of the many produce stands operating legally.