To Our Valued Customers,
The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the practices and procedures Chelan Fresh and its Enterprise Partners are following to combat the current Coronavirus situation here in the United States.
Topics included are:
- Review of Food Safety Practices at Chelan Fresh and Enterprise Partners
- Enterprise Partners
- Initial actions taken by Chelan Fresh and Enterprise Partners
- Enhanced procedures adopted as information has become available
- Emergency Response Plan in the event of a Coronavirus incident at
Chelan Fresh or Enterprise Partner
1. Review of Food Safety Practices at Chelan Fresh and Enterprise Partners
This is addressed to point out that most of the precautions and steps being recommended by government agencies to address the Coronavirus outbreak, especially related to hygiene and sanitation practices, have already been implemented and followed by Chelan Fresh and the Enterprise Partners for well over a decade. With the collaboration of our farms, warehouses, sales agency and retail buyers, food safety programs have been implemented for all enterprise stakeholders at all levels in the growing and production chain.
The actions we have taken over these years of active food safety programs has helped us prepare for an incident such as this. Workforces and facilities have long been trained in areas such as:
- Employee Hygiene
- Staying home when you are ill
- Cleaning and Sanitation practices
These types of practices are not new to Chelan Fresh or the Enterprise Partners, and everyone in the workforce understands the importance of adhering to our food safety procedures.
With the implementation of the Food Safety and Modernization Act, all farm owners and food processors are required to go through training under the Produce Safety Rule. This program and training focuses on the importance of hygiene and health. Experience has shown for our Enterprise Partners, with food safety program such as GlobalGap for orchards and SQF for warehouses have made the transition to incorporating the standards of the Food Safety and Modernization Act guidelines.
We fully realize these practices cannot guarantee the absence of a Coronavirus situation at one of our farms or facilities, but our collective goal is to mitigate the exposure, which will hopefully allow us to reduce negative impacts.
2. Enterprise Partners
The Enterprise Partners working with Chelan Fresh include:
- Gebbers Farms
- Chelan Fruit Cooperative
- Apple House Warehouse and Storage
- Columbia Valley Fruit
- Crane and Crane
- Borton and Sons
All of these Enterprise Partners and operations have in place:
- Food Safety Departments for Warehouse and Orchard Operations
- GFSI approved food safety programs for orchards and warehouses
- Cleaning and Sanitation Departments
- Mitigation plans to address the current outbreak, including practices to help avoid contamination to our workforce, and how to respond in the event we do have contamination in our workforce and facilities.
3. Initial actions taken by Chelan Fresh and Enterprise Partners
As the Coronavirus situation expanded over the last month, all Enterprise Partners took action both collectively and internally with their workforces that included:
- Review of all health, hygiene, cleaning and sanitation action plans
- Collaboration with Enterprise Partner members to share existing and new procedures that could assist in responding to the situation.
- Meetings with all employees to review CDC guidelines and recommendations as respects to:
- Staying home if they are ill, have a fever, or have symptoms that could possibly be related to Coronavirus.
- Notification procedures with workforce if there is an event.
- Proper way to cover mouth when coughing or sneezing
- Avoid touching your face
- Focus on hand washing, how to wash hands properly, and use hand sanitizers provided.
- Implement action plan for additional cleaning of surface areas that people touch during the day.
4. Enhanced procedures adopted as information has become available
Information and guidance has continued to evolve quickly over the last month on how to respond to the Coronavirus situation. We have continued to review and assess our procedures and practices and have implemented several additional steps to mitigate exposures and potential impacts. These include:
- Limit or eliminate access to facilities by non-essential outside parties
- Enhanced cleaning procedures and practices
- Increased use of Personal Protective Equipment
- Practice Social Distancing where feasible
- Where practicable, limit workers to specific plant areas to work shifts and not to migrate to other production lines in facilities.
- Where practicable, maintain the same workforce for a designated production line or area.
- Allow employees to work remotely when feasible.
- The State of Washington has closed all schools for the next 6 weeks. All Enterprise Partners are working closely with staff to assist and support any workers that will need to stay home with their children during this period of time.
- Use of technology to conduct virtual meetings on the telephone or Internet.
- Postpone all non-essential meetings or attendance at conferences.
- Limit travel
5. Emergency Response Plan in the event of a Coronavirus incident at Chelan Fresh or Enterprise Partner
Chelan Fresh and Enterprise Partners recognize the difficulty in avoiding a Coronavirus incident in one or more of our facilities. We feel we are in an advantageous position in that with the location of our enterprise facilities of over 170 miles between warehouse operations, we have the ability to back one other up to continue to provide fruit to our retail partners.
All Enterprise Partners have implemented Emergency Response Plans that include:
- Notification of Emergency Response Team and Chelan Fresh of an incident.
- Following CDC, local and state quarantine procedures:
- For any individual that has tested positive for the Coronavirus or has the disease.
- For any staff members that may have been exposed to an individual that has tested positive for the Coronavirus or has the disease.
- Procedures to lock down any exposed production area, and after recommended waiting period, at this point we are using at least 48 hours, to clean and sanitize the entire facility before putting back into service.
- Contact appropriate partners and stakeholders of the event and actions taken.
Chelan Fresh and all Enterprise Partners continue to monitor the Coronavirus situation on a daily basis. We believe it is important to have clear communication with all of our workforce and business partners.
Our goal is to have a safe working environment for our workforce, and continues to provide Apples, Cherries, and Pears to all of our retail partners.
This situation is not going to resolve itself quickly, and as information and recommendations change, we will change and respond quickly.
Director of Food Safety and Risk Management
Chelan Fresh Marketing