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Helpful Resources to Answer Your Questions About Covid-19

Georgia Specific Information

Top Industry Concerns

Employer Resources

Business Resources

Information Sheets and Graphics

Transportation

Tracking of Virus

The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association has been engaged with the larger US produce industry and helping guide many GFVGA members regarding COVID-19. An effective food safety plan coupled with the addition of recommended social distancing, is the best defense a produce operation has against COVID-19. 

Below are resources to help a fresh produce operation navigate this unprecedented occurrence in our world. 

If you have any questions, contact Beth Oleson, boleson@asginfo.net .

 

Georgia Specific Information

 

Top Industry Concerns

  1. Can fresh produce transmit the COVID-19 virus?
    • FDA directly addresses food safety concerns at the bottom of their FAQ page: “Currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal (GI) viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is a virus that causes respiratory illness and not gastrointestinal illness, and foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. That’s why it’s always critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety—clean, separate, cook and chill."
  2. Do I need to recall produce or food products if an employee tests positive for COVID-19 in a food facility?
    • FDA's FAQ state“We do not anticipate that food products would need to be recalled or be withdrawn from the market because of COVID-19, as there is currently no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food or food packaging. Additionally, facilities are required to control any risks that might be associated with workers who are ill regardless of the type of virus or bacteria. For example, facilities are required to maintain clean and sanitized facilities and food contact surfaces.” 
  3. What do I do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19?
    • FDA guidelines states“If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality.  Sick employees should follow the CDC’s What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Employers should consult with the local health department for additional guidance. While the primary responsibility in this instance is to take appropriate actions to protect other workers and people who might have come in contact with the ill employee, facilities should re-double their cleaning and sanitation efforts to control any risks that might be associated with workers who are ill regardless of the type of virus or bacteria.”
    • PMA has a simple flyer to help limit person-to-person transmission at a food facility.
  4. Will the produce industry be shut down like many other organizations and industries?
    • No. The food and agriculture industry is defined as critically essential during this time as the country continues to navigate through COVID-19. Federal agencies are doing everything they can to as to not disrupt the food supply chain for American citizens. 
  5. I have a customer requesting extension to our payment terms due to the COVID-19 emergency. If I extend payment terms with customers beyond 30 days will it impact my PACA Trust rights?
    • USDA PACA FAQIt is strongly advised that all produce sellers – whether growers, shippers, wholesalers, or others – should NOT enter into extended payment terms beyond 30 days, before the initial 30-day payment period is past. Many companies want to cooperate with one another, but extending terms before the end of the 30-day period waives your PACA trust rights and the ability to have preferential trust rights in the event of your customer’s bankruptcy. However, regulations DO ALLOW a seller and buyer to agree to a partial payment plan or enter into a payment schedule AFTER the 30-day period without losing your PACA trust rights.
  6. What if my employees are stopped during a “shelter in place” and curfew?
    • United Fresh Produce Association tailored a food and beverage coalition resource that companies can provide to workers as attestation that, as a member of the fresh produce industry,  they are authorized to work during this crisis. 
    • Download the food worker/shipment certificate.
  7. If a business is having trouble transporting food or with other major supply chain disruptions (for example not being able to get critical supplies), contact FEMA’s national emergency business operations center at nbeoc@fema.dhs.gov. 
  8. What disinfectants can be used to control COVID-19?
  9. How can we manage harvest and packing crews and employee housing with the 6-foot social distance rule in place?

 

Employer Resources

  1. PMA has created a the Digest of Guidance to the Food Industry to help cut down on redundancy and confusion from lots of regulatory organizations. 
  2. Comprehensive And Updated FAQs For Employers On The COVID-19 Coronavirus from Fisher Phillips law firm
  3. FAQ for H-2A Employers Regarding COVID-19 from the National Council of Agriculture Employers
  4. OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
  5. CDC Guidance for Employers and Business related to Coronavirus COVID-19
  6. Steps Companies Should Take to Protect Themselves from the Legal Fallout of the Coronavirus
  7. Time for a Policy Checkup: Maximizing Insurance Coverage for Coronavirus Losses
  8. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for Employers
  9. Department of Labor H-2A FAQ

 

Business Resources

  1. Information for Cold Storage Warehouses
  2. National Restaurant Association Business Continuity Planning
  3. Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans Available. Apply online.

 

Information Sheets and Graphics

  1. North Carolina State University Information Sheet – Hand Hygiene
  2. North Carolina State University Information Sheet – Homemade Hand Sanitizer
  3. North Carolina State University Information Sheet – Cleaning and Disinfecting
  4. California Strawberry Commission’s Employee Poster Best Practices
  5. American Mushroom Institute’s Employee Poster Best Practices

 

Transportation

  1. Certificate for Transporting food and agricultural supplies
  2. Weight Limits Temporarily Increased Weights on Trucks
  3. Blue Book Temperature and Ethylene Compatibility Guideline
  4. UC Davis Compatibility Chart
  5. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have waived hours of work restrictions for essential service drivers, including all food loads FMCSA's

 

Tracking of Virus

GFVGA | P.O. Box 2945 | LaGrange GA 30241 | 706-845-8200