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Food Safety Focus Group: CSA/Farmshare Distribution during COVID-19 w/ D. Rooney

D. Rooney shares practices and procedures taking place at her farm in New York and how to approach food safety during COVID-19. Join us for topics on produce safety from state laws, CSA shares, and farmer mental health and wellbeing.


Focus Group Recording


Focus Group Transcript


Focus Group Resources:

  • And, yes, wax boxes, what a tricky topic. The recommendation that I’ve been seeing is to not re-use wax boxes, per the guidance of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and The Desert Farming Initiative at the University of Nevada-Reno. Because wax boxes are porous, they cannot be cleaned and sanitized in general. I would like to flag that both institutions wrote their guidance before the CDC changed their stance on surfaces, but I don’t know that these institutions would revise in light of that change.
    So, that brings us to your situation. If you want to reuse the wax boxes, I think your best option is to buy either plastic or paper liners–I haven’t found any information on which is better, but I’m guessing, because plastic is more common, it’s probably because it’s cheaper. The farmer that co-facilitated the focus group last Friday reuses cardboard bushel boxes for their shares but uses Uline plastic liners each time. I asked my farmer friend that uses the paper bags about where he bought them and the price point, but I haven’t heard back–they probably come from a restaurant supply store because he used to be a chef. Your other option would be to pick a plastic bin or crate for your share that can be cleaned and sanitized.
    I know this is probably going to be a very frustrating answer, and I’m sorry that I don’t have better news. I also want to emphasize, though, that not reusing wax boxes is guidance from a few institutions–it’s not the law or a government recommendation. It is true that they can’t be cleaned and sanitized, but because COVID-19 is still so new and people are still trying to figure out best practices, there is no concrete guidance on the effects of leaving them out for a week.

    Subpart K–Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding Activities

    Sec. 112.116 What measures must I take when using food-packing (including food packaging) material?
    (a) You must use food-packing material that is adequate for its intended use, which includes being:

    (1) Cleanable or designed for single use; and

    (2) Unlikely to support growth or transfer of bacteria.

    (b) If you reuse food-packing material, you must take adequate steps to ensure that food contact surfaces are clean, such as by cleaning food-packing containers or using a clean liner.

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