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Breastfeeding mom can serve food at Halifax market after all

01/14/2015 12:33 EST | Updated 03/16/2015 05:59 EDT
A Nova Scotia woman's tussle with a food inspector over breastfeeding at a Halifax farmers market has turned out to be "nothing but positive," she says.

Tanessa Holt received a written apology and clarification from the Department of Agriculture on Wednesday, a day after she said goodbye to her market customers on Facebook.

Holt had been bringing her infant son along to farmers markets in Halifax, Dartmouth and Beaver Bank so she could nurse him in between serving customers at her stall, which sells prepackaged dry food.

The inspector who forbade this was mistaken, wrote the province's director of food safety.

"I personally apologize for any misunderstanding that has occurred," Barry MacGregor wrote in an email provided to CBC News.

Infants may be breastfed, bottle-fed or held in a public market booth as long as vendors wash their hands and do diaper-changing only in the bathroom, he wrote.

"If in a public market setting, if an individual was actually preparing food for service (not prepackaged), we would advise that the infant not be held during food preparation and service," MacGregor added.

Holt said she was "so happy" to hear that breastfeeding isn't considered a contamination problem in itself, and was grateful for the apology. 

The inspector she dealt with must have misunderstood the situation, but it's only good if the situation helped clarify the rules for others, she said.

"I feel humbled by the level of response to what happened," said Holt. "Hopefully this whole episode will help and inform others."

She said she'll continue to sell containers of soup mix, homemade protein bars and energy balls, and prepackaged oatmeal and granola at farmers markets and plans to open a store in Dartmouth soon.

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