“Our #1 priority is food safety. I take our berries home to share with my loved ones, so I’m treating you and your family like mine. Our rigorous food safety standards are adhered to across all commodities and growing regions. Every precaution is taken to maintain the highest integrity and safety of our berries,” Gary Wishnatzki, 3rd Generation Owner of Wish Farms.
Food Safety Amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak
Wish Farms has a rigorous food safety program in place. The safety of the berries we produce and the safety of our staff is of utmost importance and will always be our number one priority. During the Covid-19 crisis, our team is going above and beyond to safeguard our facilities, personnel and management practices. We take the responsibility of providing safe, farm fresh produce to the general public very seriously, especially during this uncertain time.
Minimal Risk of Infection via Consumption of Berries
According to the FDA, current research indicates that the virus is not food-borne or food-transmitted. Flat and smooth surfaces are typically more friendly to viruses. Because the composition of berries are naturally acidic and do not have smooth surfaces, it is unlikely to be present on the surface.
The incorporation of fresh fruits and vegetables into one’s diet has consistently been shown to increase overall health, including the immune system. Staying healthy increases the body’s ability to fight infections. Although the risk is small that any individual would contract COVID-19 from fresh produce, experts recommend the following steps to further reduce the risk:
- Frequent hand-washing effectively reduces risk. After a trip to the supermarket, make sure to wash your hands, especially if tongs or other shared utensils are used.
- Try not to manipulate produce items. While part of the buying experience is feeling, touching and manipulating the produce, this may increase the probability of a pathogen being deposited on or acquired from the produce.
- Consumers who are immune compromised should consider purchasing pre-packaged fruits and vegetables as an added measure of caution or choose to eat cooked fruits and vegetables at this time.
- All produce items should be washed thoroughly before consumption.
By taking these common sense precautions, consumers can continue to reap the health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables without incurring excessive risk of acquiring COVID-19.
A Summary of Safety Precautions Taken by Wish Farms
- We will continue to follow our rigorous food safety policies. This includes washing hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- We are cleaning the surfaces in our warehouse facility every two hours during operation.
- We have added additional hand wash stations at various locations.
- We have limited the access of our facilities to only essential employees.
- Essential employees are screened for symptoms before entering and clocking in to our facilities.
- All non-essential employees are working from home
- Any employee diagnosed with COVID-19, will be sent home and compensated up to 14 days for time missed due to illness.
Food Safety Aligned with Technology
The enactment of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) revamps old regulations from being reactionary to preventive. We are dedicated to leading the charge in food safety innovation.
Utilizing the Highland Hub software, we now have “Live Food Safety”. Growers document field applications, pre-harvest inspections and much more to show compliance with FSMA and GFSI requirements. Our Facilities utilize the same software to document temperatures, sanitation and all necessary food safety checks to verify a “clean” supply chain. We are also able to complete Internal Audits utilizing the software. This serves as an additional check on ensuring best practices are being followed.
Wish Farms is compliant with the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) requirements. We implement case-level electronic traceability across all four berries. We have gone above and beyond this industry-driven standard and developed a patented traceability system to achieve item-level produce traceability.
All of our operations, from farms to facilities, complete a third-party audit to Global Food Safety Initiatives (GFSI) Standards. This is the same standard that is not only followed in the United States, but around the world.
Wish Farms’ Food Safety Program includes certification by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), the highest level in food safety management systems, covering both GAP and GMP. The Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) includes a series of food safety checkpoints covering farm production and post-production. In addition, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) covers food safety procedures in our warehouse and coolers.
All of our growers are under contractual agreement to adhere to the Wish Farms Food Safety Program. Our grower partners operate independently and are therefore responsible for adhering to federal, state and local food safety regulations. Even though they maintain independence, the Wish Farms team provides support and guidance.
Our Food Safety Team provides ongoing education to growers throughout the season in addition to pre and post harvest. Food Safety staff is onsite at farms during the season to ensure policies are being followed and are readily available to address any non-compliant issues quickly and effectively. Utilizing the Highland Hub program, we can best assist them in compliance and address issues in real time. Each grower is aware that non-compliance can lead to disassociation from Wish Farms.
Pesticides: Debunking the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen”
There is a lot of misinformation about pesticide residues circulating on the internet. We believe science should guide your decision, not fear.
Our food safety team tests MRL (Maximum Residue Limits) and reviews spray records to verify that our berries meet US and Canadian law. The likelihood of there being any residues remaining on your berries are unlikely. Results are read in parts per million, and typically residues are 95% below the legal limit.
All active ingredients are EPA registered. Re-entry and pre-harvest intervals are strictly adhered to by our growers. Re-entry intervals protect workers, and pre-harvest intervals protect consumers.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Pesticide Data Program (PDP) and the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) residue sampling program both found that more than 99% of the produce sampled had residues far below Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safety levels, if present at all. The USDA stated in their report summary: “Based on the PDP data, consumers can feel confident about eating a diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.”
An analysis conducted by toxicologists with the University of California’s Personal Chemical Exposure Program found a child could eat hundreds to thousands of servings of a fruit or vegetable in a day and still not have any health effects from residues.
For consumers who may still be concerned about residues, the FDA says washing your produce under running tap water often removes or eliminates any residues on organic and conventionally grown produce that may be present.