As the U.S. steps up efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, LGMA is sharing some important facts about lettuce and the practices in place on farms in the area of human hygiene.
1. “There is no evidence that fresh produce or any other food can transmit the virus.” – United States Department of Agriculture
Learn more about Coronavirus and fresh produce from the United Fresh Association.
2. One of the best things people can do to prevent colds and flu of any kind is to eat plenty of immune-building fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens like lettuce, spinach and kale. Learn more.
3. Over 90% of the leafy greens consumed in the U.S. are produced under the LGMA food safety program which includes stringent requirements regarding the health and hygiene of employees working on farms and in fields.
4. Bathroom and hand-washing facilities are required to be present anytime harvest crews are working in leafy greens fields.
5. Under the LGMA’s required practices, bathrooms must be clean and must always have water, soap, toilet paper, hand drying towels. Hand sanitizers are also provided on many farms.
6. Workers must wash hands before and after breaks or whenever they use the bathroom.
7. LGMA member companies who grow leafy greens are required to train workers on the required practices, including how to properly wash their hands. The LGMA provides a hand-washing training that is free to download.
8. People who are sick are not allowed to come into contact with leafy greens products.
9. No one is allowed to consume food, chew tobacco or spit near leafy greens fields.
10. Harvest equipment and tools must be sanitized regularly.
11. Member companies of the LGMA are visited regularly by government officials to verify these required practices are being followed. On average each member company of the LGMA is audited by the government five times per year.
12. During on-farm visits, government auditors observe activities of work crews to make sure they understand and follow required hygiene practices. The auditors will test workers’ knowledge by speaking to them directly asking questions such as, “Did your employer check with you today to make sure you weren’t feeling ill before you began work?”
These are just some of the measures in place to ensure the safety of leafy greens. The growers and employees who make up the leafy greens community are committed to protecting consumers and have adopted a culture of food safety in their operations. While there is no evidence that the COVID-19 virus is spread through food, we think it’s important that people understand what happens on our farms each and every day.