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State fruit, veggie growers comment on safety


Last updated 4/15/2020 at 1:29pm

The Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association (CFVGA) and its grower members are very concerned about the impact COVID-19 is having on Coloradans’ physical, economic and social health, officials say.

“We join authorities in urging Coloradans to comply with safety guidelines laid out by our state and to be considerate of others by doing what we can to keep ourselves and others safe from the virus,” said CFVGA President Robert Sakata, Sakata Farms, Brighton.

Sakata added that CFVGA is urging growers to continue to implement their high level of worker health measures when retailing their produce to reduce human transmission of COVID-19. He also notes that currently there is no evidence that food or food packaging is associated with transmission of COVID-19. “Fortunately, produce growers already implemented very high standards of safety as laid out in the Food Modernization Act, implemented several years ago. CFVGA and its partners over the past several years have focused on extensive grower training of these produce safety rules.”

“Consuming produce is one of the best things consumers can do to keep their immune systems strong,” said Cathy Schmelter, An Ounce of Nutrition, a registered dietitian nutritionist. “During this pandemic, it is crucial that we do everything we can to feel better and to boost our immunity. Consuming produce is an excellent way to accomplish both goals.”

The CFVGA is comprised of roughly 250 members, including produce operations of all sizes and types of production throughout the state, as well as representatives of allied industries. The Colorado fruit and vegetable growing sector contributes nearly $485 million to Colorado at the farm gate and is multiplied as it goes through the distribution chain. Over 90,000 Colorado acres are in fruit and vegetable production.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are stating that food production and supply systems nationwide remain safe and abundant. Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that food produced in the United States can transmit COVID-19, and no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods, according to a statement by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Additionally, there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.

“People across Colorado can rest assured that our state’s food supply systems are operating as intended:  To provide plenty of safe food for the public,” said Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg. “The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) is working closely with the USDA, together ensuring the safety and timely delivery of the U.S. food supply while protecting the health of our employees during the COVID-19 National Emergency.”

Commissioner Greenberg has created a Food Security Task Force to work closely with Colorado’s agriculture producers and food companies across the supply chain to support their needs during the COVID-19 emergency.

For more information about the Task Force, please contact Tom Lipetzky, Director of CDA’s Markets Division, or Jordan Beezley, CDA Legislative and Policy Advisor.


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