URBANA, Ill. — The current health issue has disrupted normal daily activities. There are many questions for growers and producers, as well as managers of farmers markets. Trust this researched advice from reliable sources.
“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.” (World Health Organization)
“The virus is thought to be spread mainly from person to person … who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Follow these food handling and food production practices at roadside stands, U-pick farms, farmers markets, and community gardens to maintain good agricultural safety practices:
- Wash your hands frequently. Properly wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or longer; rinse and dry with single-use paper towels or, if this is not available, use a 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol hand sanitizer, according to the CDC.
- Clean and sanitize your work area. “Studies suggest coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).” Clean surfaces at least daily.
- Use EPA-endorsed products. These products can be used to disinfect or sanitize surfaces that are contaminated with the novel coronavirus. Decide which products are appropriate, based on the EPA label and the Safety Data Sheet for that product. When in doubt, confirm that the labeling of the sanitizer is appropriate for use on food contact surfaces.
- Introduction to Selecting an EPA-Labeled Sanitizer provides guidance on selecting sanitizers and links to an Excel tool to help growers select a sanitizer suitable for their operation. Keep In mind, the PSA Sanitizer tool and the EPA N list were created for different reasons and they project different information. When in doubt, in reference to COVID-19, use the EPA N list.
- Use the search tool at EPA List N to help determine the sanitizer to use with food products.
- Sick employees should remain home and follow all recommendations by the CDC and the public health department.
- Check out these Illinois Extension COVID-19 resources.
Additional resources for COVID-19 can be found at:
- Produce Safety Alliance: Food Industry Resources for Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Centers for Disease Control: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- World Health Organization: Rolling Updates on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Frequently Asked Questions
— University of Illinois ACES
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