According to the European Food Safety Authority[1], there is no evidence that food is a source or a transmission route of the novel Coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. But consumers might start to worry about fruit like grapes or strawberries. Were they hand-picked or packed? Was the person who picked or packed them healthy? What sanitising measures did the producer take?

Perception might not be fact, but it can spread like wildfire and drive behaviour.

What can you do as a farmer to maximise the safety of your workers and your products and manage consumer perceptions?

Below are a few sources that could be useful:

  1. The Water Research Commission has developed a document that gives you the facts on water hygiene when dealing with the novel Coronavirus. Click here to see the fact sheet.
  2. The New Zealand government has published a template for a pandemic business continuity plan. We’ve added some local information highlighted in turquoise. Click here for the template. You will have to complete it to meet your needs.
  3. The World Health Organisation published general principles for food hygiene. Have a look at the personal hygiene section and also at the section on how to apply a hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) system. Click here to download.
  4. Postharvest Disinfection of Fruits and Vegetables edited by Mohammed Wasim Siddiqui describes available technologies to reduce microbial infection for maintaining postharvest quality and safety. Click here for more information.
  5. The CDC has published excellent posters that you can put up on the farm. Download them here.

The COVID-19 posters and other communication material on the internet do not have handwashing instructions for people who fetch water from a communal tap or a borehole. This is the reality of many people living in rural areas and informal settlements in South Africa. We have contacted the Water Research Commission and the World Health Organisation for answers. We will keep you posted.

Please share your experiences and questions in a comment below.