Food Digest-May 2015


Vol. 19, Issue 3



Food Digest is a quarterly newsletter written by inspectors from your local health department to support and educate Hennepin County food facility owners and managers about food safety as recommended by Minnesota Food Code 4626.



Selling homemade food at a community event or farmers' market

Homemade food that is not potentially hazardous (i.e. maple syrup, fruit pies, cakes, cookies, breads) can be sold at community events or farmers' markets without a license if:

-Gross receipts from the food items do not go over $5,000.00 in one calendar year;


-The person selling these foods must post a visible sign stating: "These products are homemade and not subject to health inspection";


-All products must be labeled to include the name and address of the person preparing and selling the items.


More information regarding Farmers' Markets can be found on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's website.

homemade jam


We welcome comments or ideas about our newsletter. 

Amy Zagar

Hannah Marschinke

Fomites and Microbes

dirty knife

A quick overview of proper cleaning and sanitizing procedures


A fomite (aka. any surface in your kitchen) can be a breeding ground for microbes if it is not cleaned routinely. Think about all the surface areas in your kitchen: cutting boards, knives, food prep tables, utensils, handles on coolers, etc. These surfaces should be cleaned and sanitized frequently to avoid risky situations. (Picture- dirty knife stored improperly)

What is the risk? Food debris and residue left on surfaces provide an abundance of nutrients for disease-causing bacteria to thrive. As bacteria multiply exponentially, they can quickly and easily contaminate your hands, gloves, and other food and work surfaces. Routine cleaning and sanitizing is your greatest defense. The best times to clean and sanitize are: after use, at timed intervals, or anytime surfaces are visibly soiled.


Here are some cleaning and sanitizing tips (MN Food Code 4626):


1.     Clean and sanitize surfaces between cutting different types of raw meat, between working with raw meats and ready-to-eat foods, and anytime contamination or visible food debris is present. 

2.     If utensils or equipment (which is not under temperature control) are used continuously with potentially hazardous food, they must be washed, rinsed, and sanitized at least every four hours.

3.     Non-food contact surfaces— such as cooking or baking equipment, and the interior cavity of microwaves — must be cleaned every 24 hours.

4.     Non-food contact surfaces of refrigerators, shelves, and other equipment must be cleaned frequently enough to prevent accumulation of dust, dirt, food residue, and other debris.   

Take home note: Clean and sanitize all surfaces frequently! 


sani bucket

Wiping cloths and microbes

Wiping cloths can also become an environment where bacteria flourish. Some tips:

1.     Store wet wiping cloths in an EPA-approved sanitizing solution. Common examples of approved wiping cloth sanitizers are chlorine (50-100 PPM) and quaternary ammonia (200-400 PPM).

2.     Keep chemical sanitizing solutions at their proper concentration and free from food debris and visible soil.

3.     Moist cloths used with raw animal foods must be kept in a separate sanitizing solution.

4.     To verify that a sanitizer is at a proper concentration, use a test kit to test it periodically. Fresh sanitizer should be replaced at least every four hours.

5.     Always label sanitizer spray bottles and sanitizer buckets with the common name or “sanitizer.”

6.     When purchasing a sanitizer, make sure the product has an EPA registration number and is approved for food contact surface use.


Take home note: Keep your wiping cloths stored correctly and make sure your sanitizer is EPA-approved and is at a proper concentration.


Serving locally grown produce in food facilities


Spring is finally here. The flowers are blooming and local farmers are hopeful for an abundant crop. Because farmers markets are popping up in nearly every city, we often get questions like:


Can food facilities like restaurants, grocery stores, and school lunch programs legally buy or accept donated produce from a farmers market or directly from a grower and serve it to clients, students, or customers?

The answer is “Yes.” In fact, this trend has been on the rise since 2003.


The Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Health, and the University of Minnesota teamed up and produced an informative fact sheet that explains how food facilities can use locally grown produce safely and legally.

Take home note: You CAN purchase and serve locally grown food from an approved source. For more information read the fact sheet.

Ordinance reminder


Is your kitchen bright enough?


A well-lit work space is an essential component of kitchen and storage areas. Food facilities licensed with Hennepin County must follow the lighting requirements noted in Hennepin County Ordinance Three:

Food preparation areas must be lit to 70 foot-candles.

Storage areas including dry storage areas, walk-in coolers, and walk-in freezers must be 30 foot-candles.

Facilities licensed under Minnesota Department of Agriculture are required to provide 50 foot-candles for food preparation areas and 20 foot-candles for all storage areas (including dry storage areas, walk-in coolers, and walk-in freezers).

Web resources

Visit for information on:

  • General environmental health
  • Basic food safety classes
  • Temporary food stand licensing
  • Food license information, categories, and fee schedule
  • New construction or remodling application

Radon information and test kits 

Septic System requirements and procedures

Body Art Licensing information (tattooing and piercing) 

Beaches in Hennepin County

Visit to subscribe to our e-newsletter.