Please find 41North’s protocols and policies regarding the ongoing COVID-19 / Coronavirus health crisis below. This page will continually be updated as this information changes.
All employees are only still welcome at work if asymptomatic. If they present any symptoms or have been exposed to any risk vectors they are required to immediately self-isolate for at least 7 days without symptoms present and another 14 days from the time symptoms present before being welcomed back to work.
Under current circumstances, no more than 1 person is permitted at the greenhouse at any time. If there is more than 1 person at the greenhouse, they will be in separate rooms with closed doors, and at least 6’ apart at all times.
Food is handled at all times with sterile, nitrile gloves. While harvesting, our growers currently wear an N95 respirator mask covering half the face.
Our leafy greens are then prewashed and sit in sterile plastic packaging for at least a day in cold storage prior to delivery. Our delivery driver is going to be using clean gloves to handle packaging at all times.
We would still recommend rinsing all farm-fresh produce, even under normal circumstances (i.e. farmers markets etc). Many of the recent food safety recalls in this country have been traced back to contaminated wash water.
Finally, the research seems to be that while plants are vectors for bacteriological and fungicidal contamination, they are not vectors for viruses. But, just to be super safe, as mentioned previously, a good 20+ second rinse (just like hand washing), or even a 5-10 minute cold water soak on all but the herbs (use room-temp water to soak/rinse these), should take care of absolutely any remaining surface-level contaminants, whether that be a mite, e. coli, or a novel coronavirus.
And all this said: while we are taking every precaution, and the food itself is very minimally handled by human hands (we like to think as little as humanly possible), I would, and have been personally practicing, near-paranoid levels of hygiene and can only advise in good conscious doing the same. If we’ve missed anything that would make you feel even more comfortable, please do not hesitate to let us know.
Please find some additional knowledge regarding food safety and coronavirus, more generally, below. The following has been resourced from Perdue Farms:
COVID-19 is NOT considered to be a food-borne pathogen. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 is most commonly spread between those who are in close contact with each other, and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It may also be possible for a person to contract COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching his or her own mouth, nose or possibly eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. We have strict biosecurity protocols throughout our farms and entire supply chain, including proven sanitation methods which minimize the risk of contaminated surfaces.
You can rest assured that we are taking every precaution to protect our associates, communities, customers and business partners, and ensure the continuity of our business.
Finally, a good article was just published in Fast Company just this morning about how the disease actually travels, and the precautions you can take to protect yourself around materials like cardboard, plastic, and stainless steel:
Above all: it is time to practice good hygiene, social distancing, and hyper-vigilance. When in doubt, please play it conservatively and take as few chances as possible. We intend to do the same.
Please stay safe and healthy!