FROM OUR FARM TO YOUR TABLE – COVID-19 and FOOD SAFETY

      By Erin Parke Watson

15 April 2020

Uncertainty? Anxiety? Fear?  COVID-19 is a pretty scary virus, we all know this because we either have loved ones dealing with it on the front lines (we THANK YOU SO MUCH for your sacrifice and service), have experienced it ourselves (and we pray on the mend), or we see it every  time we get on social media or turn on the T.V (can’t this all be over already so I can start posting funny memes again??).

There is so much information circling the media about whether it’s safe to eat produce from the grocery store. So, I thought I would help answer THE BIG QUESTION most of you are concerned with regarding Food Safety during the coronavirus pandemic and what we here at Parkesdale Farms are doing to mitigate those risks.

DOES COVID-19 SPREAD ON FOOD SURFACES OR PACKAGING? 

The CDC reports, “Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Because of the poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.”  What we do know, is it is passed from human-to human transmission onto surfaces (like packaging) and via droplets (from a cough or a sneeze).  At Parkesdale, we have a very strict handwashing policy in place for all our employees. Our packaging is inspected at each delivery and safely stored in our facility until ready to use. Now…I know you are worried about the people that touched that packaging AFTER it left our farm.  I would be too.  But, just like you would, on a COVID free day, once you bring your fresh from the farm produce home, dispose of the packaging and wash your fruits and vegetables (while also washing your hands for at least 20 seconds).  So, don’t be afraid to support your community (and your immune system) and support local.

At Parkesdale Farms, we understand the importance of stepping up our sanitation game during this virus when it comes to your food being safe.  While we do these things every day, we have increased the frequency of our health and hygiene training for all our employeeshave supplied ample hand sanitizer at multiple locations for employees to use, and we had cute strawberry masks made for all the employees to wear during operating hours. We have Standard Sanitation Operating Procedures (SSOP’s) that is rigorously outlined and routinely followed in our Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan. HACCP is a way for us to monitor our food safety system to identify and control biological (like COVID-19), chemical (food grade sanitizers and EPA approved spray), and physical hazards (like rocks and metal) within our farm and cooling facility (just taught you guys a little bit about my job).

So don’t let that uncertainty, anxiety, and fear control the way you buy your produce.  We are all in this together…. #TogetherAlone.

Erin Parke Watson is the Director of Food Safety at Parkesdale Farms, Inc. and Parkesdale Farms Packing and Cooling, Inc.

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