ODA and ODH issue opinion for keeping products cold at farmers’ markets

The Retail Food Safety Advisory Council recommended during their meeting on February 23, 2010 that the Director of Agriculture and the Director of Health issue the attached “Letter of Opinion 2010-01”. This Letter of Opinion serves to clarify OAC 3717-1-04.1(KK) in regards to "Cold Holding at Farmers' Markets and At Temporary and Some Mobile Facilities."

Unless rules are adopted under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3717 that override the interpretation expressed in “Letter of Opinion 2010-01”, this interpretation shall be binding and applied uniformly throughout this state.         

- Charles Kirchner, Food Saftey, Ohio Dept. of Agriculture

The ODA will be conducting training sessions on this interpretation, on cottage food rules, and labeling later this spring.

In layman's terms, the letter tells the local health departments that it is acceptable for them to approve mobile retail food establishment licenses that include the use of coolers and ice to keep "sealed" foods cold.  Sealed foods are those that are water impermeable such as commercially sealed packages of meat and cheese.  When mechanical refrigeration is required for other items, such as eggs or cream pies, it clarifies that any refrigerators or freezers used need not be certified by a testing agency. In other words, the equipment need not be "commercial" grade.  An accurate thermometer is needed to assure that temperature is maintained. The letter also confirms that a license issued in one county is to be honored throughout Ohio.

Read the Refrigeration Letter of Opinion 2010-01