Hi! New to the group. I am the manager of our farmers market here in Ferguson, MO. I see from previous posts that someone else has had issues getting answers from our county health dept about cottage laws here in North County St. Louis. My main question is who has final say over whether a vendor can sell products at our market made under cottage laws. Our health dept told me they do not allow home canned goods at farmers markets. But if the vendor is properly approved through cottage laws, does our health dept have the authority to not allow them? I admit, I am not very knowledgeable about cottage laws and would like to learn more. And, if a vendor wants information on how to get set up under cottage laws, where is the best place to find that information? Thanks!
Mary, the Missouri page on here is a good starting point, since it summarizes what’s in the law: https://forrager.com/law/missouri/
The best place to find official info is from the health dept. The health dept must follow the law, as long as the law is clear. But they are able to interpret it if it is ambiguous. In the case of canned goods, their decision to not allow them is consistent with the law.
As I recall, there is no part of MO’s law saying that health depts have to allow cottage food businesses, so yes, I believe that a health dept could choose to not allow them, if they wanted. Also, as the farmers market manager, you can choose not to allow cottage food businesses if you don’t want to.
Thanks for your reply. I would love to allow cottage food businesses at our market so very disappointed our county health won’t allow it. I would also love it if our health dept was the best place for information. Unfortunately, they don’t even seem knowledgeable on some things. I was standing by our inspector at our last market while he told the vendor she could sell her canned goods if she filled the jars AT the market! He also picked up a jar, loosened the ring, and said, “This doesn’t seem sealed,” even though the lid (not ring) was very securely sealed. She tried to explain the canning process but he didn’t seem to understand. One of several frustrating incidents with our health dept. But thank you for the information. Good to know.