Canning Plant opens by appointment only under new COVID-19 safety guidelines

Operating with new safety protocols and guidelines amid the current COVID-19 crisis, the Seminole County Canning Plant has been given the go ahead to open by the Seminole County Board of Education and the State Agricultural Education staff. 

Just in time to can and preserve fresh fruits and vegetables growing abundantly in our county, the canning plant is now open on Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment only. No walk-ins will be allowed, and appointments must be made by contacting Wes Pace  at 229-220-1233, Dusty Smith at 229-493-0553, or Holly Garcia at 229-254-4536. The price of cans this season $1 each. 

Georgia Agriculture Education authorities recognize the importance of the food processing facilities to the schools and communities they serve. They also recognize that food processing/home canning is essential to many families and individuals in these communities. It is their desire to see these facilities utilized as much as possible while protecting all those involved and providing a safe product for the customers. A Georgia Agriculture Education spokesperson commented, “We further understand that due to circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, practices and procedures used in these food processing facilities will have to be altered for the coming season.”

 In order to maximize the safety of the agriculture teachers, student workers and customers of the food processing facilities, the following quidelines have been implemented and are being followed at the Seminole County Canning Plant.

• Teachers and student workers should take their temperature each morning before reporting to the facility. Anyone with a temperature above 100.4, cough or shortness of breath, or who have knowingly been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, should not report to work. 

• Signs should be posted outside the facility asking customers not to enter the facility if they are exhibiting symptoms or have knowingly been exposed to the Covid-19 virus.

• All teachers and student workers should wear masks while inside the facility. Customers should be encouraged to do the same.

• All teachers and student workers should always wear disposable gloves while handling food products.

• Teachers, student workers and customers should not share gloves, towels, cloths, or other equipment.

• Food processing facilities are strongly encouraged to require customers to make appointments to use the facilities in order to reduce the number of customers inside the facility at a given time. This may also require limitation of the amount of produce that can be processed during the appointment to allow as many customers as possible during the day. The facility may need to alter hours of operation in order to accommodate the scheduling of customers. Time between appointments should be adequate to sanitize between customers.

• Food processing facilities should encourage customers to do as much prep work as possible prior to coming to the facility. This minimizes time and exposure in the facility and may allow more appointments during the day. Customers who utilize glass jars for food preservation  could be encouraged to fill these at home and bring to the facility for the thermal processing.

• The facility should limit as much as possible the number of customers inside and encourage/enforce distancing of six feet between customers, teachers, and student workers as much as possible.

• The facility should provide hand soap and disposable towels and encourage frequent handwashing of all involved.

• The facility should sanitize all workspaces and equipment before customers arrive, between customers and again at the end of the day.

You may also want to review the new CDC guidance for poultry and meat-packing facilities for added advice and available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/meat-poultry-processing-workers-employers.html

Food processing facilities should implement these practices to minimize risk as much as possible.  The Agriculture teachers of each food processing facility should also follow all guidance given by their local board of education/health department as to further practices that should be followed, and as to whether the local BOE or Health Department will allow reopening of the food processing facility.

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