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A county health inspector shut down the Arlington Farmers Market outpost of the Maryland bakery chain Atwater’s on Saturday morning for selling muffins, scones and a dozen different bread loaves without individual packaging. The bust took place within an hour of the market’s 8 a.m. opening, according to bakery general manager Tim McGuire.
Atwater’s sells at 18 different farmer’s markets in the region, according to McGuire, but Arlington is the only one of the five counties that does not offer a specific license for itinerant vendors, creating particular problems for those selling fresh bread from makeshift stalls. For morning farmer’s markets Atwater’s drives its bread fresh from its Baltimore county bakery and sells them without wrapping, which McGuire says would damage their warm crusts.
Atwater’s has been operating out of code for years, but inspectors rarely appear at the Saturday market and on a few occasions in the past have not made an issue of the violation, says McGuire. “It’s been overlooked before in the interest of keeping the market full and vibrant,” he says. “I can claim no innocence here.”
McGuire says that Atwater’s expects not to put up a legal fight, but hopes to work with county officials to create a new licensing category more appropriate to market vendors. He expects to return to the market next weekend with some sort of appropriate packaging. “I’m a baker, not a lawyer,” he says. “My solution will come on the bread end.”
The Arlington County Public Health department was closed on Saturday and no one could be immediately reached for comment.