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Fact Sheet: Farmers’ Markets

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Farmers’ Markets

A Farmers’ Market offers a location for several local vendors to sell their food and goods to the public. Some vendors may require licensure from the local health department based on the foods offered for sale.


Food Sources

Any prepared or packaged food must come from an approved source. Home production of food must be limited to cottage foods and baked goods coming from an Ohio Department of Agriculture (ADA) licensed Home Bakery.
Food items such as BBQ sauce, pasta sauce, dressing, salsa, herb-oil, etc. must be prepared in a licensed facility. If a food label does not indicate it was manufactured in a licensed facility, the food item may not be sold.



The farmers’ market itself is not subject to inspection or licensure by any agency. However, the vendors may be subject to licensure based on the foods offered for sale.

The organizer of the farmers’ market has to register the farmers’ market with the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) if cottage foods are to be sold.

Environmental Health sanitarians inspect restaurants, grocery stores and other food service operations to ensure that food is being handled, stored and cooked properly. At your farmers’ market, you can use many of the same safety tips to ensure the food you prepare is safe for your customers to eat. Visit our Web site for more details.



All packaged foods must be properly labeled. Labeling requirements may be found in ORC 3715.023 and 21CFR Part 101.

Labels must include the following:

  • Name and address of the producer;
  • The name of the food product;
  • All ingredients of the food product, in descending order by predominance of weight unless the food item is a single-ingredient food;
  • The net weight or net volume of the food product;
  • Nutritional claims (low fat, low sodium, etc.) must meet federal labeling requirements;
  • Allergen labeling must be followed as specified in federal


What’s in a Name?

Farmers’ Markets and Farm Markets are not the same. Farmers’ Markets offer a location for several local vendors to sell their food and goods to the public. Farm Markets sell food items that are produced at the facility where they are sold.



What food vendors are exempt from licensure?

Those selling only:

  • Fresh, unprocessed fruits or vegetables;
  • Maple syrup, sorghum, or honey (properly labeled);
  • Cottage foods;
  • Commercially packaged non-TCS foods in displays that are smaller than 100 cubic feet.


What food vendors must obtain licensure from the local health department? Those selling any foods not listed in the exempt list including (but not limited to):

  • Any food being handled without being pre-packaged
  • Any food being prepared onsite
  • Any food requiring refrigeration
  • Cheese
  • Cheesecake
  • Coffee
  • Cut Melons
  • Eggs
  • Fresh Popcorn
  • Fresh Salsa
  • Ice Cream
  • Milk
  • Meats
  • Waffles/Crepes


Mobile License: Operated from a movable vehicle or other portable structure that routinely changes location. Mobile licenses are good for 1 year (3/1-2/28) and can be used anywhere in the State of Ohio.

  • Mobile Retail Food Establishment License: A unit where food is processed, prepared, manufactured or otherwise held or handled for retail sale in bulk quantities.
  • Mobile Food Service Operation License: A unit where food is prepared and/or served in individual portions. Mobile FSOs must have a permanent, plumbed hand sink, 3 bowl sink, hot water, and many other requirements.

Temporary Licence:  A food service operation or retail food establishment that is operated for not more than 5 consecutive days. Temporary licenses are limited to 10 per year, per location. Temporary FSO’s must have a means of washing hands, 3 tubs set up for utensil washing, and the means to keep food within temperature requirements.

Food Safety

Never: Use a countertop for thawing; leave leftovers out too long; use unclean cutting boards; marinate at room-temperature; use the same platter for raw & grilled meats; use the same spoon for stirring & tasting; use the same knife for trimming raw meat and chopping vegetables.


Food Safety Training

Hamilton County Public Health offers a bi-monthly food safety training class. Classes occur on the first Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m. and the third Thursday of the month at 1:30 p.m. The cost of these courses is $20 per person. Call (513) 946-7800 for more information or to register for classes.



Questions about farmers’ markets or licensure? Contact Hamilton County Public Health at (513) 946-7800.


Download a printable version of this fact sheet here.


250 William Howard Taft Road
2nd Floor, Cincinnati, OH 45219
Phone 513.946.7800 Fax 513.946.7890