When our group started working with farmers markets a few years ago we created a strong partnership with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Together, with funding from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund, we developed best practices and engage directly with market managers and vendors through workshops and on-site visits. Since 2010 the curriculum we developed has been delivered to over 1000 managers and vendors and we’ve got some data that shows it led to some infrastructure and practice changes. Since then we’ve been working with others at Virginia Tech, University of Georgia, University of Arkansas and the University of Houston to take our vendor stuff national and couple it with other materials on that colleagues have developed.
Both of these projects were a result of wanting to help protect public health – and the farmers’ markets – from outbreaks. There haven’t been many farmers’ market-linked outbreaks reported. But one popped up today.
According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, four cases of salmonellosis have been linked to shelled peas from a vendor at a couple of farmers’ markets.
Authorities believe the cases stem from consumption of peas sold at a July 22 farmers market in Green Bay, said Anna Destree, Brown County’s health officer.
County authorities are reminding people to follow proper procedures for washing and preparing vegetables, but say there is no need to panic.
“There’s no need for people to say, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t buy peas,'” Flynt said. “They just need to follow proper washing and food-handling procedures.”
Officials said any shelled peas purchased from downtown Green Bay farmers markets between July 19 and Aug. 5 should be thrown out.
Flynt did not have any word on the conditions of the county residents who were infected.
I don’t know who Flynt is, but blaming consumers isn’t a good idea. There’s no info as to whether these peas were consumed raw, whether cross-contamination was a factor – and c’mon, can someone show some data that says washing peas would be an effective risk reduction step here?
Here’s an infosheet on asking questions at farmers’ markets. Stuff like how do you keep Salmonella off of my peas.