Fruits, Vegetables, and Food Safety: Health and Hygiene on the Farm

Fruits, Vegetables, and Food Safety: Health and Hygiene on the Farm


have you ever thought about how
important your job is in fact when you really stop to think about it your job
is one of the most important jobs there is because you help feed people around
the world each piece of fruit and vegetable that you harvest or pack with
your hands can travel thousands of miles to feed all kinds of people men and
women children the elderly and families just like yours what about your own
family you probably wash their fruits and vegetables or make sure they wash
them before they eat them and there are probably many other things you do to
protect your family and make sure what they eat is safe and good for them in a
similar way you also play a part in helping to make sure the food you
harvest is safe for millions of other people though you’ve never met most of
them you touch their lives every day you could even say that their health and
safety is influenced by how well you do your job as you can see your job is very
important food experts recommend that we all eat at least five servings of fruits
and vegetables every day to get the nutrition our bodies need to stay
healthy people seem to be listening to these important messages because they
are eating more fresh fruits and vegetables than ever before
increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables means that everyone
involved in growing harvesting sorting and packing produce is very important in
assuring the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables
one way that fruits and vegetables can become unsafe is by carrying harmful
germs although we can’t see germs without a microscope they are everywhere
even on us let’s see how these microscopic germs can spread without
anyone knowing it even during harvest and packing suppose you get germs on
your hands by doing some ordinary everyday thing by going to the bathroom
or blowing your nose or tying your shoes or even picking something up off the
floor these germs are bacteria that are on your body clothes and hands can be
transferred to fresh fruits and vegetables during
and packing as you can see there are many different ways bacteria and other
disease-causing organisms can move from place to place causing fruits and
vegetables to be contaminated contamination can occur when good
hygienic practices are not followed during the harvesting and packing of
fruits and vegetables showering daily wearing clean clothes and washing your
hands often are examples of good hygienic practices practicing good
personal hygiene is very important for your own health as well as for the
safety of the fruits and vegetables you harvest and pack washing your hands can
prevent you from getting sick and can’t prevent germs from being passed on to
the fruits and vegetables you handle prevention is the goal
unfortunately when contamination does occur those that get the sickest are the
most vulnerable among us the very young the very old pregnant women and people
with chronic illnesses they can become so sick they could die because of these
harmful germs of course food is at risk for contamination at every step in the
food system through harvesting sorting and packing while on display at the
market and even during preparation at home but the only thing you can control
is your own actions and the things you do to protect the food you harvest or
pack after that we hope everyone does their job as well as you do this video
will discuss ways you can prevent contamination of fruits and vegetables
while you work the video was filmed in real production fields and packing
houses across the United States no operation is perfect and so you may
notice situations where practices could be improved such as the addition of
protective equipment such as hair nets or the removal of items such as jewelry
take note of these practices as you watch the video and think about what you
would do to prevent contamination your supervisor may take time to discuss some
of these issues with you at the conclusion of the
do the government provides guidelines that
protect and support you while you are at work the guidelines for proper workers
safety and sanitation say the growers must provide workers with clean and
sanitary toilets and hand-washing facilities including soap water and
single-use towels within a 1/4 mile walk of your work
location in the field or in the case of rough hilly areas as
close as a vehicle can be driven toilet facilities may be fixed or portable and
must be supplied with adequate toilet paper hand soap water and paper towels
for employees hand-washing needs they must also be ventilated and properly
constructed and screened to ensure your privacy if you see that your facility is
running out of toilet paper soap paper towels or water is dirty or has some
other problem that makes it unsanitary tell your supervisor it is every workers
responsibility to help keep the toilet facilities sanitary through proper use
and informing supervisors of maintenance needs while most people know how to use
a filled toilet some may have questions about how to properly use them filled
toilets have an elevated seat to sit on clean toilet seats will not transmit
diseases so avoid urinating or defecating on the seat by sitting down
never stand on the toilet seat sometimes filled toilets have urinals to use for
urination only all filled toilets are designed to have toilet paper deposited
directly into them never place used toilet paper next to the toilet always
throw it into the toilet packing houses often have flush toilets
used toilet paper should be deposited into the toilet and then the toilet
should be flushed after each use if there is a problem and the toilet will
not flush notify your supervisor always wash your hands after using the toilet
some of the most serious illnesses happen because people who handle food
don’t wash their hands after they use the toilet
you should also wash your hands before beginning work
after you finish your workday and frequently throughout the day some other
important times include before and after eating smoking and taking breaks guidelines require your hand-washing
facilities to be located near the toilet facility your hand-washing facility is
also required to have clean water soap and disposable towels although the water
is clean you should not drink it the water is provided for hand-washing only
now let’s review the best hand washing technique for removing dirt and germs
it’s important to take enough time to wash your hands properly a recommended
guideline for thorough hand washing is to continue washing scrubbing all areas
of your hands for at least 20 seconds first thoroughly wet your hands under
the running water apply plenty of soap and work it into a lather be sure to
wash all surfaces of your hands it’s natural to pay attention to the palms
but sometimes we forget to wash the backs of our hands and between our
fingers wash all sides of your fingers and exposed areas of your forearms and
work the soap into the areas under and around your fingernails when you’ve
finished washing rinse your hands and dry with a paper towel and throw the
used towel in a trash can when you are finished never use a towel more than
once and never share a towel with someone else many harmful germs hide in
wet towels you can make yourself and others sick using someone else’s towel
never ever just rinse your hands quickly without soap and wipe them on your
clothing not only are your hands still dirty you could pick up even more germs
from your clothes practicing proper hand washing is the best way to reduce the
risk of germs being passed from your hands to the fruits and vegetables that
you touch finally your employer may also provide a hand sanitizer but use it only
after washing your hands with soap first if used alone sanitizers can miss the
germs that may be hiding in the dirt on your hands if you are required to wear
gloves remember to use disposable gloves properly they are not a substitute for
proper hand wash the best practice is to first properly
wash and dry your bare hands then put on your gloves if you are required to wear
non disposable gloves such as rubber gloves the gloves should be washed as
frequently as bare hands remember to properly wash your hands before and
after putting on non disposable gloves and throw them away when they get ripped
torn or become unclean able remember if your hand-washing facility is low on
water soap or towels or has some other problem let your supervisor know so it
can be restocked or repaired your employer should provide drinking
water for you that meets the standards for clean pure drinking water the water
containers should be cleaned before filling and covered to prevent anything
from contaminating it if disposable cups are provided use each cup only once then
throw it in the trash container to protect yourself and your fellow workers
from getting sick never share cups water dippers
containers or water bottles that you brought from home because germs can be
easily transferred from one person to another if water is provided from a
drinking fountain the fountain should have enough pressure to project the
water well away from the spout to protect yourself from getting other
people’s germs never place your mouth on or close to the spout if you’re drinking
water facility is low on water or cups or doesn’t work well let your supervisor
know immediately not having water available when you need it can also make
you sick the first thing you must protect is your own health and safety if
you have symptoms of illness such as nausea vomiting or diarrhea you could be
infected with germs that could harm the food you are handling and you should not
handle fruits and vegetables until you are well report any illness to your
supervisor if you cut yourself while working seek first aid immediately if
you have a sore cut or blister that is bleeding or infected or has some other
discharge apply proper medication and cover it with a bandage then notify your
supervisor to ensure that any produce or produce packages with blood on them can
be destroyed and if the sore cutter blister is on your hands you should wear
gloves even if you don’t normally do so ask your supervisor to provide gloves
for you while your wound heals this will provide added protection to
prevent contaminating the fruits and vegetables you are working with remember
by practising good personal hygiene you protect your own health your family’s
health and the health of everyone who eats the fruit
vegetables you harvest and pack let’s review some important things your
employer must provide facilities for you to maintain your personal health and
hygiene on the job these include a private clean and sanitary place to use
the toilet with a fully equipped hand-washing facility nearby as well as
a supply of clean drinking water that’s readily available to you throughout your
workday be sure to take advantage of these facilities and be aware of your
own health and how it affects the fruits and vegetables you harvest and pack if
you were ill or have symptoms such as diarrhea jaundice or vomiting notify
your supervisor you should not handle fruits and vegetables when you were ill
because you could contaminate the produce you handle and make others very
sick chronic diarrhea is not normal and you could be infected with pathogens
that can cause foodborne illness if you have additional medical concerns discuss
them with your supervisor and seek medical care your health is very
important when you are healthy and at work shower daily wear clean clothes and
wash your hands often throughout the day hand-washing is very important and
should always be done after using the bathroom as well as before and after
eating smoking and taking breaks other important times include after touching
exposed skin dirty clothes or other possibly contaminated surfaces be sure
to use soap and rub your hands for 20 seconds protect yourself and the produce
you handle and remember above all your work is very important millions of
people all across the world appreciate the safe and wholesome food you helped
produce in fact without your careful work there wouldn’t be the wonderful
variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that keep families just like yours
healthy and strong