Lone Star Citrus Growers, a parent company of Winter Sweetz, is committed to the health and safety of our employees, visitors, growers, and guests. As leaders in corporate citizenship, and in partnership with our company’s stakeholders, a Coronavirus Response Safety Team was developed with safety standards in place that are in accordance with local and national health guidelines to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 in our facilities, our farms, and the greater community.
Read about the latest decisions made by the company and the actions being taken in preparedness for COVID-19.
After careful and exhaustive review of the risks associated with COVID-19, and the potential for possible spread of the virus based on the guidance provided by health officials, Lone Star Citrus Growers announced a safety team and action items to assess potential threats and formulate solutions.
Our company’s safety team includes April Flowers, CRST Leader; Pete Torres, Food Safety Manager; Joe Vargas, Plant Manager; Manuel Torrech, Juice Plant Manager; Miriam Zumaya, HR Manager; Chris Eddy, Assistant Operations Manager; Chris Pina, Assistant Plant Manager; Juan Celestino, Pack Master; Adam Cantu, Lab Assistant; Glen Martin, Grove Care Manager; Mario Elizondo, Security.
On July 1, the team conducted a risk-assessment walk through of the premises, which included tracing the path of each employee and their respective duties within the company. The following actions demonstrate how Lone Star Citrus Growers is prepared to address safety concerns should they arise. Actions include:
The need to implement engineering controls is one of several steps needed to ensure a safe and risk-free workplace. Toward that end, we have increased airflow through the strategic placement of fans in key areas along processing and pack lines. Additionally, plexiglass dividers have been installed in areas along lines where employees are not able to maintain a safe 6 feet of distance.
As well, a 3rd manual pack line will be opened for better social distancing. Water fountains throughout the facilities have been retrofitted as bottle fillers, and disposable cups are now also being offered. We have increased sanitation measures including additional hand-washing stations installed throughout the processing and pack lines area, and there are now three temperature check stations located within the facility.
Administrative controls have been developed in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and Hidalgo County orders including mask requirements for all employees and visitors when social distancing is not possible. Beginning on July 23, all employees and visitors must undergo a screening via Quick Screen application prior to entering the premises.
We have adopted increased sanitation measures in high traffic and high-touch areas using CDC and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved electrostatic fogging machines also used for disinfecting the shed. Also, truck drivers will no longer have access to the shed floor or loading bay, and farm labor is closely following the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommendations for safe harvest practices.
In preparation for the upcoming season, and in an effort to protect the health and wellbeing of returning seasonal workers, employees received additional training by healthcare professionals during the orientation process. Instructions on proper hand washing and mask usage, and discussions on the importance of social distancing were highlighted, as well as a review of safe quarantine practices amid exposure.
Seasonal workers have been made aware of improved facility entry protocols such as ensuring proper hand washing and sanitizing ahead of entry, after clocking in, prior to entering the packing floor plant, and upon exit of the plant floor. Staggered lunch shifts have been implemented as a crowd-control measure, and additional outdoor picnic tables have been added to promote open air dining. Reminders for creating healthy habits in the form of distancing decals, high touch stickers, and hygiene posters are now located throughout the shed.
We are a company with a demonstrated commitment to our community. Our greatest pride comes from knowing we are stewards of promoting the highest standards that benefit our customers and partners.
By acting swiftly and resolutely, we have been able to create a more secure workplace for our employees, which translates to greater peace of mind for our customers. Lone Star Citrus Growers was built on the trust you’ve given to us and mirroring your values, and amid this pandemic, we remain steadfast and more focused than ever in offering the quality you’ve come to know and expect.