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USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue delivers message to America’s consumers. (3/17/2020)  

Is it safe to shop for groceries right now? 

There is no evidence that currently supports the idea that the virus can be spread through food or food packaging. However, since COVID-19 can survive on hard surfaces for up to 72 hours, shoppers may consider disinfecting food packaging after bringing it home from the store, in addition to common-sense measures like washing hands with soap and water before and after preparing food, and following the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) four food safety steps: clean, separate, cook, and chill. 

How are farmers and food processors prepared to handle this type of crisis?

Since 2015, food facilities (including foreign facilities) have been required to register with section 415 of the Food, Drug, & Cosmetic Act and must comply with the for risk-based preventive controls mandated by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) as well as the modernized Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) of this rule (unless an exemption applies).   This rule requires food facilities to have a food safety plan in place that includes an analysis of hazards and risk-based preventive controls https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-modernization-act-fsma/fsma-final-rule-preventive-controls-human-food  

The Produce Safety rule established, for the first time, science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption. The rule is part of the Food & Drug Administration’s implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act. This rule went into effect January 26, 2016. Taking measures to prevent contamination of produce and food-contact surfaces by ill or infected persons, for example, instructing personnel to notify their supervisors if they may have a health condition that may result in contamination of covered produce or food contact surfaces.
Using hygienic practices when handling (contacting) covered produce or food-contact surfaces, for example, washing and drying hands thoroughly at certain times such as after using the toilet.
Taking measures to prevent visitors from contaminating covered produce and/or food-contact surfaces, for example, by making toilet and hand-washing facilities accessible to visitors.
Farm workers who handle covered produce and/or food-contact surfaces, and their supervisors, must be trained on certain topics, including the importance of health and hygiene.
Farm workers who handle covered produce and/or food contact surfaces, and their supervisors, are also required to have a combination of training, education and experience necessary to perform their assigned responsibilities. This could include training (such as training provided on the job), in combination with education, or experience (e.g., work experience related to current assigned duties)https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-modernization-act-fsma/fsma-final-rule-produce-safety 

Are food products produced in the United States a risk for the spread of COVID-19? 

There is no evidence to suggest that food produced in the United States can transmit COVID-19. 

Is food imported to the United States from other countries affected by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), at risk of spreading COVID-19? 

Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods. 

Are there food shortages right now? 

There are no nationwide shortages of food, although in some cases the inventory of certain foods at your grocery store might be temporarily low before stores can restock. Food production and manufacturing are widely dispersed throughout the U.S. and there are currently no wide-spread disruptions reported in the supply chain. Please read a joint statement put out by California Farm Bureau and California Grocers Assoc. here

How can I be sure my tap water is safe? 

Tap water from a California water district is treated specifically to remove infectants like the new coronavirus, which “is a type of virus that is particularly susceptible to disinfection and standard treatment,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website. “The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies,” according to the EPA. And that appears unlikely to change, particularly in California. 

https://www.ocregister.com/2020/03/17/coronavirus-doesnt-jeopardize-tap-water-but-it-might-be-carried-in-raw-sewage/amp/?__twitter_impression=true 

What does someone do if they don’t have health insurance and need a COVID-19 screening or treatment? 

First check with a local community center or hospital to see if fees for testing can be waived. Next check and see if the individual is eligibile for Medi-Cal or Covered California. More information can be found at https://covid19.ca.gov/healthcare 

Who are critical infrastructure employees?  

In the modern economy, there are many types of employees required to sustain normal day-to-day services that enable our economy and our way of life. This goes far beyond utilities and public works. This guidance offers an initial baseline for governments and industry to use when identifying key groups of employees that may require accommodation to ensure infrastructure functioning is not degraded during COVID-19 response. A list of the 16 industries designated critical infrastructure can be found here. 

Who Is California Farm Bureau? 

California Farm Bureau is a nonprofit organization of farmers and ranchers consisting of county Farm Bureaus from nearly every county in California, established in 1919 to work for the betterment of family farmers and ranchers in California. With over 30,000 members, representing every commodity grown in the state, California Farm Bureau is committed to securing the future of California’s farmers and ranchers. 

 

California Farm Bureau’s Ag Alerta weekly newspaper for California agriculture, is a great source to keep up on how the COVID-19 virus is affecting agriculture. Find its complete COVID-19 coverage here:

Coronavirus Farm & Ranch Resources