How does providing safe and sanitary bathroom facilities for those working hard to harvest our fruit and veggies effect you and I?
Chew on this…without a clean and sanitary place to go to the bathroom and wash their hands, the food that they harvest may be full of bacteria and other hazardous organisms.
Here’s a scenario to consider: Imagine that the bathroom facility is a mile away, there’s no vehicle to take you, and you have to go badly, but you don’t want to take that long going all the way to the bathrooms anyway because you have a quota to make and you need to get paid. As a result, you decide to go off to the side to do your business. Were you far enough away that it didn’t affect the soil? How did you wash your hands?
It’s possible that soil that has been exposed to defecation or urine can transfer bacteria to the plants. Harmful organisms can also be transferred to the plants by unclean hands. That’s not to say that any time there’s a contamination outbreak that’s the case, but it can happen.
The government recognizes this and has produced a Field Sanitation law under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In addition, some states that have a large farming industry have created Acts that are similar to the government provisions, but are more detailed regulations for the farm owners and managers to follow. Illinois is one of those states. It has issued the Field Sanitation Act, which gives a very clear explanation of how every farm that employs 10 or more workers must provide hygienic bathroom and drinking facilities. It states that they can be permanent structures or portable bathrooms, but they must provide private toilets with toilet paper, clean water and soap for hand washing, as well as a way to adequately dry hands. The conditions of those portable restrooms must be sanitarily maintained, safe, and sufficiently ventilated; no more than ¼ of a mile away from the location of any one worker.
It seems that more farming states have caught on to these regulations and are following suit, since more cases of contaminated produce resulting in sick consumers are popping up. Because of this, many farmers are now looking to portable restroom trailers as their facility solution. They are easy to relocate, safe, private, and sanitary. Furthermore, they provide conditions that exceed government standards and won’t break the budget.
If you think about it, everything is connected in one way or another. Working conditions affect those who harvest the fields, which effect how clean our food is, which ultimately affects our health. So is it safe to say, “you are what you eat”?