Food Safety during COVID-19 Outbreak

 

The following information has been compiled for general public and for those who come under essential businesses in CT.

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) has recently released information on what steps they are taking to keep Americans fed during the pandemic. From ensuring food safety to keeping farmers markets and other forms of community-supported agriculture operational; for more information:
10 things state departments of agriculture are doing to keep Americans fed during the pandemic

 

Food Safety News:

Recently, there have been coronavirus outbreaks in farmworkers across the country including Tennessee, New Jersey, and Oregon, among others. Although many local farmers have seen explosive growth, as people rush to farm stands and invest in CSA programs, one of the most affected personnel is migrant workers who are at high risk of infection. Please read the following article for more information on what measures other farms are taking during outbreaks and the challenges they are facing.

https://fortune.com/2020/05/29/farm-workers-test-positive-coronavirus-covid-19-tennessee/

The federal government in the last two weeks has signaled its willingness to take over any part of the food industry that isn’t functioning properly to keep production flowing. Currently, the extended authority is being provided to “FDA-regulated food facilities, including fruit and vegetable processing.” Please read more about it here: https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2020/05/from-meat-to-fruits-and-vegetables-the-fight-to-prevent-food-shortages-moves-on/​​​​​​​

USDA

USDA Announces Details of Direct Assistance to Farmers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

State of Connecticut Department of Agriculture

DoAg Survey:

Please find a survey for CT farmers, this information may be used to facilitate the Farmer toFamilies Foodbox Program, wholesale supply chains, and other COVID-19 response efforts. Please participate in the survey to help DoAg assess your needs for the upcoming months.
Respond here: https://bit.ly/CTFarmerSurvey

COVID-19 GUIDANCE for CONNECTICUT FARM STANDS, STORES and COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE (CSA)

COVID-19 GUIDANCE on FOOD SAFETY for CONNECTICUT FARMERS

COVID-19 GUIDANCE for PICK-YOUR-OWN FARMS

COVID-19 GUIDANCE for CONNECTICUT FARMERS’ MARKETS

COVID-19 GUIDANCE for HANDLING BIRD AND BACKYARD FLOCKS

COVID-19 GUIDANCE and FACT SHEET for POULTRY BIOSECURITY

Moving forward, if you would like to reach me regarding questions on food safety or set up a virtual on-farm readiness review (OFRR – farm walk-in-interview prior to inspection with DoAg), please contact me at 860-786-8191 or email me at indu.upadhyaya@uconn.edu.

FDA resources:

  • FDA has recently stated that food supply is safe among COVID-19 and there are no current disruptions in the supply chain. Consumers should be confident in the safety of their food. To read more about coronavirus impacting the food industry please visit FDA leaders_food supply is safe.
  • If you have questions such as 
  1. How do I maintain social distancing in my food production/processing facility and food retail establishment where employees typically work within close distances?
  2. A worker in my food production/processing facility/farm has tested positive for COVID-19. What do I need to do to continue operations while protecting my other employees? 

or other concerns regarding Food safety and COVID-19, please visit FDA Latest FAQs
 

Consumer resources:

  • As a consumer if you have questions such as 
  1. Should I mist produce with a very diluted bleach solution (a teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water) and let it air dry before I eat it to avoid contracting COVID-1?
  2. Does cooking foods kill the virus that causes COVID-19? (Short answer- YES) 

please visit Consumer_FAQs

Since, it is believed that cooking can kill viruses, it is recommended that high-risk population (especially under current circumstances) such as immunocompromised hosts and seniors, avoid consumption of RAW produce.
 

Other food safety resources:

  • For questions that food industry in other states (NY and neighboring) may have such as 

a. How long can COVID-19 remain viable on different surfaces?  

b. Can animals raised for food and animal products be source of infection with COVID-19?

please visit FAQs_FoodIndustry

  • Food safety_COVID-19_Checklist
  • SOP_Actions_to_be taken when worker tests positive for COVID-19

    For businesses:
  • Under the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan program, a qualifying business or nonprofit organization can apply for a loan of up to $75,000 or three months of operating expenses (whichever is lesser). All of the information can be found at  CT_Recovery Bridge Loan Program 
  • The American Farmland Trust’s Farmer Relief Fund will award farmers with cash grants of up to $1000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis. Initially eligible applicants include any small and mid-sized direct-market producers. For complete information go to the ATF website at Farmer Relief Fund.

As always, if you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me at indu.upadhyaya@uconn.edu. At UConn extension, we will try to answer your queries as soon as possible and keep you updated as we know more.

 

For more resources on COVID-19 and food safety, please visit:

Food Safety and COVID-19

Food Safety for COVID-19

Considerations for Fruit and Vegetable Growers Related to Coronavirus

COVID19-Info-and-support-for-CT-growers

Food Safety Resources for Farmers 

Food Safety and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)\


List of frequently touched surfaces