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Food Safety during Covid-19

Preventing the spread of Covid-19 in the food service industry

We all know how hygiene is important to keep our business trustworthy, credible and consistent. Hygiene is one of the main pillars that holds the roof over a food service business. Excellence in its implementation builds trust.

Hygiene starts from personal responsibility on personal hygiene, cleaning & sanitation throughout the whole operation. In a food service business, all activities from receiving of raw materials to the serving moment can expose end users to the virus. Personal responsibility is key as you need to maintain a protection against it or the virus on your hands and all surfaces at all times.

While it is disheartening that we are passing through this pandemic, it is also an opportunity to see how food service employees already take utmost responsibility by implementing the highest hygiene measures.

I would like to take a moment to thank all food service employees from manufacturers, stores keepers, chefs, managers and delivery staff, for their effort in making sure that all safety measures are implemented. The world has witnessed your level of responsibility and appreciates your passion for creativity in a safe and trustworthy manner.

Our reminder of the WHO & FAO Covid-19 preventing guidance:

Staff working in food premises should be provided with written instructions and training on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Normal routine fitness to work procedures employed by food business as part of their FSMS (FOOD SAFETY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM) should ensure that infected workers are excluded from food premises.

Staff who are unwell or have symptoms of COVID-19 should not be at work and should be informed about how to contact medical professionals. This is imperative because if an infected worker handles food it is possible that the virus could be introduced to the food being prepared, or onto surfaces within the food business, by coughing and sneezing, or through hand contact. In addition, in some cases, infected people may be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic and may not display any signs or symptoms of disease or may present with mild symptoms that are easily overlooked. Some infected people not yet displaying symptoms have been shown to be contagious and capable of spreading the virus. This underscores the need for all personnel working in the food industry, regardless of their apparent health status, to practice personal hygiene and appropriately use PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) such as masks and gloves. As such, it is key Food Services businesses introduce a high level of security and staff management to maintain a disease-free working environment.

Prerequisite programmes must ensure that COVID-19 infected (symptomatic individuals and confirmed asymptomatic carriers) workers and their contacts (those with exposure to confirmed cases) are excluded from food premises.

Staff who are unwell or who have any symptoms of COVID-19 should not work. A procedure to allow staff to report illness by phone (or email) should be established so that workers with early stages of COVID-19 can receive reliable information and be quickly excluded from work environments.

Food safety practices in food premises should continue to be delivered to the highest hygiene standards in line with established FSMS.

Good staff hygienic practices include:

  • Proper hand hygiene – washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • Frequent use of alcohol-bases hand sanitizers;
  • Good respiratory hygiene (cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; dispose of tissues and wash hands);
  • Frequent cleaning/disinfection of work surfaces and touch points such as door handlers;
  • Avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

“Our health and wellness come first in order to be able to support ourselves and others.”

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