Fresh Ideas, Growing Together

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

CFO is committed to keeping you informed. Check back regularly for CFO's most current COVID-19 related information. If you have any questions or concerns, please email covid19@ontariochicken.ca.

Click on the questions below for more information.

CLIQUEZ ICI pour accéder à la version en français.

 

What is the Ontario Chicken Industry doing to ensure Ontarians have access to a steady supply of fresh chicken?
Our farmers continue to raise chicken while following the highest levels of on-farm food safety, animal care and biosecurity.

CFO is not aware of any significant disruption at the production and processing level, and the expected level of supply is being delivered across the province. 
 
The chicken sector is proactive in maintaining a constant level of supply despite the uncertainties related to COVID-19. We are committed to monitoring and proactively responding to the situation.

How is production planning being monitored differently during COVID-19?
Industry is working together to assess production planning and processing capacity in the wake of COVID-19. 

CFO and the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors (AOCP) have struck a working group which is evaluating business continuity strategies.

CFO is also working closely with other industry partners, Chicken Farmers of Canada, and other Provincial Boards across the country.

CFO is also working closely with all levels of government to ensure we are aligned with public policy.
What health and safety measures must be implemented by farmer-members?
The Association of Ontario Chicken Processors (AOCP), Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO), Ontario Agri Business Association (OABA), Ontario Broiler Hatching Egg and Chick Commission (OBHECC), Ontario Hatcheries Association (OHA) and Poultry Service Association (PSA) have collaborated to communicate the following health and safety measures to all relevant stakeholders in the Ontario chicken industry.

Health and safety measures that must be implemented by Ontario chicken farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. BE EXTRA VIGILANT – Do your part to reduce the risk to public health and supply chain disruptions

2. ON-FARM VISITORS - Physical distancing is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19
  • All non-essential on-farm visits must be postponed
  • Limit exposure by limiting on-farm visits as much as possible
  • Farmers must ensure they practice physical distancing when industry personnel are on-farm
    • This means staying at least six feet away from others 
3. SELF-ISOLATION PROTOCOL – Physical distancing is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19
  • Farmers who have been exposed to, or suspect exposure to COVID-19 must self-isolate and follow Ontario Ministry of Health (MOH) guidelines
  • Farmers who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must self isolate and follow MOH guidelines
  • Farmers who have traveled outside of Canada must self-isolate for 14 days upon return, as per MOH guidelines
  • Farmers who are self-isolating should not go to work or be in their barns
  • Farmers who are self-isolating must not be present while industry personnel are on their farm. They must designate an alternate person to be present or be available by telephone during this time
  • CFO farmer-members who are self-isolating must notify CFO at covid19@ontariochicken.ca and any applicable industry stakeholders who are required to visit their farm
4. HANDWASHING & SANITATION - Proper hand washing and sanitation is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19
  • Farmers must practice MOH handwashing guidelines
  • Farmers must thoroughly wipe down any common-area surfaces and entry point(s) to the barn with disinfectant
  • As applicable, farmers must suspend the availability of in-house washrooms for industry personnel use (this is for the safety and protection of everyone)
    • If farmers do not have in-barn washroom facilities, they must make every reasonable effort to provide portable washroom facilities with handwashing and sanitation supplies for industry personnel to use
    • If portable washrooms that include water for handwashing are not available for rent, running water could be provided by way of a large water jug which includes a spout or a pump, a soap dispenser and paper towels - in addition to the portable washroom
    • We recognize there is a shortage of hand sanitizer. Farmers must make every reasonable effort to obtain a supply of hand sanitizer for their farm

What health and safety measures must be implemented by industry stakeholders coming on-farm?
The Association of Ontario Chicken Processors (AOCP), Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO), Ontario Agri Business Association (OABA), Ontario Broiler Hatching Egg and Chick Commission (OBHECC), Ontario Hatcheries Association (OHA) and Poultry Service Association (PSA) have collaborated to communicate the following health and safety measures to all relevant stakeholders in the Ontario chicken industry.

Health and safety measures that must be implemented by Ontario chicken industry personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic as it pertains to going on-farm:

1. BE EXTRA VIGILANT – Do your part to reduce the risk to public health and supply chain disruptions

2. GOING ON-FARM - Physical distancing is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19
  • All non-essential on-farm visits must be postponed
  • Industry personnel must ensure they practice physical distancing when on-farm
    • This means staying at least six feet away from others  
3. SELF-ISOLATION PROTOCOL – Physical distancing is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19
  • Industry personnel who have been exposed to, or suspect exposure to COVID-19 must self-isolate and follow Ontario Ministry of Health (MOH) guidelines
  • Industry personnel who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must self isolate and follow MOH guidelines
  • Industry personnel who have traveled outside of Canada must self-isolate for 14 days upon return, as per MOH guidelines
  • Industry personnel must follow additional guidelines as stipulated by their independent employers and/or associations
4. HANDWASHING & SANITATION - Proper hand washing and sanitation is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19
  • Industry personnel must practice MOH hand washing guidelines

Where can I find more information about recommended COVID-19 health guidelines?
What should I do when I have been exposed / I'm in self-isolation or suspect that I have COVID-19?
Since there are still many unknowns about COVID-19, until more information is available, if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or are in self-isolation, you must maintain isolation and notify CFO and any industry partners that may need to access your farm. Arrange to have all surfaces including doorknobs wiped with disinfectants. Have someone else care for your animals during this period. Please take the necessary steps to avoid contamination of other members of your staff or external staff (e.g., catching or chick placement crews).

According to the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) there have not been any reports of companion or other livestock becoming sick with COVID-19 and currently there is no evidence that they play a significant epidemiological role in this human disease. However, because animals and people can sometimes share diseases, it is still recommended that people who are sick with COVID-19 or have been exposed to the disease, limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.

Who is required to self-isolate?
The Ontario Ministry of Health (MOH) requires all Ontarians to self-isolate based on the following criteria:

  • Anyone who has traveled outside of Canada must self-isolate for 14 days upon return. People who are self-isolating should not go to work, or be in their barns. You must make other arrangements, and you must notify CFO and all relevant industry stakeholders who are required to visit your farm 

  • You are also required to self-isolate if you are showing any symptoms of COVID-19, or have been in contact with anyone who has a suspected case of COVID-19 

CLICK HERE to access the MOH self-isolation guidelines.

CLICK HERE for an informative poster from MOH regarding how to self-isolate. 

What precautionary measures should I take when handling birds?
Practicing optimal biosecurity measures is of utmost importance as always. Personal and facilities cleanliness is paramount, with facilities tightly closed and impervious to all non-essential visitors and outsiders. Maintain high level of general hygiene measures, including:

  • regular hand washing with soap and potable water before and after touching animals and animal products
  • avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth
  • wear disposable masks and gloves in the barn if possible


Has there been Animal-to-Human infection in Canada?
There is currently no evidence to suggest that this virus is circulating in animals in Canada. It is possible that some types of animals may be able to get infected with COVID-19, but it is not yet clear whether they would show symptoms or be able transmit infection.

Does food or packaging pose a threat in the spread of COVID-19?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Food Safety Association have both recently stated that “There is no evidence to date of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses being transmitted via food or food packaging.
 
The WHO went further to say in a guidance document that while a “recent research evaluated the survival of the COVID-19 virus on different surfaces and reported that the virus can remain viable for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, up to four hours on copper, and up to 24 hours on cardboard. This research was conducted under laboratory conditions (controlled relative humidity and temperature) and should be interpreted with caution in the real-life environment.”


Where can I get reliable information on COVID-19?
It is important to keep informed with accurate and timely information. Farmer-members can find more information by visiting the following websites:


Will there be on-farm audits during COVID-19?
In alignment with provincial government and local health authorities’ guidelines, CFO has resumed conducting on-farm audits as of August 24, 2020.  

We continue to do our part to observe physical distancing, and we are putting the health and safety of our farmers, their families and our CFO team members first!

The annual audit must be completed every year to meet certification requirements under Chicken Farmers of Canada OFFSP and ACP programs.


Will additional safety measures be implemented to protect Farmer-Members and Farming Operations Representatives (FORs) for on-farm audits?
CFO has implemented additional COVID-19 biosecurity and safety protocols to protect the health and safety of farmer-members and CFO Farming Operations Representatives (FORs) during on-farm audits, including:

  • FORs will wear biosecurity gear at all times during a farm-visit, and strict physical distancing will be maintained. FORs will no longer go into Farmer-Member homes during an audit or other farm-visit.
  • FORs will be required to complete a COVID-19 self-assessment questionnaire each morning before attending a farm
  • Farmer-Members will be required to complete a COVID-19 self-assessment questionnaire prior to an audit or farm-visit
  • Virtual options will be utilized for all communications and contact prior to and following the on-farm audit, limiting the amount of in-person interactions as much as possible
Your FOR will discuss the heightened COVID-19 biosecurity and safety protocols with you prior to any scheduled on-farm visits. 


Where can farmer-members obtain water tests for audits?
Farmer-members are required to complete necessary water testing for both records assessment and on-farm 2020 audits. Water tests are valid for one year.
 
Should you be unable to attain water testing at your public health unit during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are private laboratories that continue to carry out water testing. For the list of licensed laboratories in Ontario, please visit: https://www.ontario.ca/page/list-licensed-laboratories. Please contact the laboratory in advance to confirm drop-off procedures.


How will farmer-members be notified if their annual audit will be a records assessment or an on-farm audit?
Farmer-members are instructed to contact their Farming Operations Representative (FOR) in advance of their audit anniversary date. CFO sends scheduled reminders to farmer-members with more information and instructions.

Upon contacting their FOR, farmer-members will be notified whether their 2020 audit will be a records assessment or an on-farm audit.

CFO is endeavouring to ensure that all farmer-members undergo an on-farm audit at least once every two years. Farmer-members undergoing a records assessment in 2020, should anticipate an on-farm audit in 2021.


If a farmer-member underwent a records assessment audit instead of an on-farm audit, as a result of COVID-19, will they be required to also have an on-farm audit?
No. Farmer-members who would have normally had an on-farm audit in 2020, but instead underwent a records assessment audit due to CFO on-farm restrictions in alignment with provincial government and local health authorities’ guidelines, will not be required to complete another audit in 2020.

As per normal operating procedure, CFO staff may still be required to attend a farm for the purposes of upholding CFO policy, investigating complaints, or to assist with emergency management. 

CFO is endeavouring to ensure that all farmer-members undergo an on-farm audit at least once every two years. Farmer-members undergoing a records assessment in 2020, should anticipate an on-farm audit in 2021.


Will farmer-members have the option to opt-out of an on-farm audit?
No. The reinstatement of on-farm visits is aligned with the provincial government and local health authorities’ guidelines, and includes additional COVID-19 biosecurity and safety protocols to protect the health and safety of farmer-members and CFO Farming Operations Representatives (FORs).

Farmer-members should discuss with their FOR at the time of scheduling the on-farm audit if there are any questions or concerns regarding the precautions in place to protect the health and safety of farmer-members and FORs. Farmer-members are required to work with their FORs to ensure that the additional COVID-19 biosecurity and safety protocols are followed.

The annual audit must be completed every year to meet certification requirements under Chicken Farmers of Canada OFFSP and ACP programs.


What if a farmer-member has tested positive for COVID-19 or is self-isolating while awaiting test results on the scheduled date of the on-farm audit?
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or are in self-isolation, you must maintain isolation and notify CFO and any industry partners that may need to access your farm.

Any scheduled on-farm audits will be rescheduled to a later date, once it has been determined that the on-farm audit can be conducted in compliance with the additional COVID-19 biosecurity and safety protocols.

Farming Operations Representatives (FORs) will conduct a COVID-19 farmer-member questionnaire before arriving on-farm. The COVID-19 farmer-member questionnaire is designed to protect the health and safety of farmer-members and FORs, and is comprised of a short series of questions to identify any COVID-19 related risks.

FORs are required to do a self-assessment each morning before conducting any farm visits. This self-assessment includes a pre-screening questionnaire, a copy of which will be shared with the farmer-member before the FOR arrives on-farm.


Are CFO Farming Operations Representatives (FORs) being tested for COVID-19 before going on-farm?
FORs are required to do a self-assessment each morning before conducting any farm visits. This self-assessment includes a pre-screening questionnaire.

FORs must self-isolate for 14-days, if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms or have been in contact with a suspected or confirmed case, or if they have travelled outside of Canada. If a FOR is diagnosed with COVID-19, the FOR must self-isolate for 14 days and at least three full days following cessation of symptoms.


Can agriculture construction projects continue during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The Ontario Government has amended the list of essential workplaces to include:

Construction projects that are due to be completed before October 4, 2020 and that would provide additional capacity in the production, processing, manufacturing or distribution of food, beverages or agricultural products.

CLICK HERE, for more information on the Ontario Government’s list of essential workplaces.


Is the CFO office open?
The CFO office remains open! However, we have implemented a ‘Non-Essential Visitor Policy’. Farmers and stakeholders who had plans to visit our office are being asked to postpone or make other arrangements.

In addition, all staff-associates have the option to work from home. CFO is limiting in-person engagements and making use of digital technology wherever possible. 
How is CFO supporting food banks during COVID-19?
The CFO Cares: Farmers to Food Banks program is continuing to provide fresh, locally-grown chicken to food banks across the province.

During this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, CFO has temporarily made the program more flexible for food banks – expanding the program to include frozen, prepackaged, and further processed chicken products – in order to provide Premium Ontario Chicken to families and individuals in need.

As Canada’s premier provider of trusted, family-farmed, safe, high quality, nutritious chicken, the Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) are making sure that all of Ontario’s families have a chance to enjoy Premium Ontario Chicken.

CFO will continue to work in partnership with Feed Ontario to ensure Ontario’s food banks are supported.

Farmer-members who have not yet made a 2020 donation, can CLICK HERE and make your donation today.

CLICK HERE for more information on the CFO Cares: Farmers to Food Banks program.