Nova Scotia health inspectors apologize to breastfeeding farmers’ market vendor

From the no-risk-assessment-in-sight files, the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture has apologized to Tanessa Holt, owner of Food Noise, after citing her for food safety violations for breastfeeding while selling food.

According to media reports and her Facebook page Holt’s risk management strategy wasn’t good enough for the initial inspector.tanessa-holt

Holt writes:

I recently received a call from a food safety representative informing me that I cannot nurse my child at my booth as it is a violation of the food safety regulations.

I explained that there is a handwashing station behind my booth, I have gloves for handling food and that I am always more than covered when nursing. Further, my food is served in closed containers.

Despite this I was informed that I will have to have someone else sit with me the entire day to handle food if I nurse my child even once during the day while at the market.

CTV News reports in a follow-up that Holt received an email from higher-ups apologizing for the misunderstanding.

“I am happy to receive an apology, because I thought it was outrageous to begin with,” she told

Holt has been selling dry food items, including granola and oatmeal, at several markets in the Halifax area since last August.

Holt explained that her food is served in containers, that she uses gloves and a nearby hand washing station, and that she covers up while nursing. Still, she was told that she would have to get another person to handle the food if she is breastfeeding her son.

As that is not a feasible option for her, she had decided to pull out of the farmers’ markets altogether.

In the apology, the department said that the message from the food safety inspector was a “misunderstanding,” and Holt was welcome to breastfeed her son at the market so long as she followed proper hand-washing procedures.


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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.