Food Safety during COVID
There is no evidence to suggest that handling food or consuming food is associated with COVID-19. The virus is spread person to person through respiratory droplets from speaking, coughing, or sneezing. However, it is possible to get COVID-19 by touching a surface that has the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or even your eyes with your contaminated fingers. While this is not the primary way the virus spreads, we all want to do our part to minimize our exposure as well as the spread of this deadly virus. Here are some safe food handling measures you can put into practice to help you feel confident about your food preparation and food safety in your business.
As mentioned, there are currently no cases of COVID-19 that have been identified where the infection was spread through food – touching food, food packaging, etc. However, following good food safety practices is always a good idea, now more than ever!
COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus, meaning scientists are still learning all the ways in which the virus can be spread. The most up-to-date evidence indicates that SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is not transmissible by food but by close contact between infected people. That said, one of the most important safety items for food industry workers is to maintain a safe distance and wear a mask and/or face shield. Hand washing, hand sanitizing, and other hygiene measures are incredibly important as well. All food workers should wash their hands frequently and for a minimum of 20 seconds. Workers who wear gloves should change them often and all workers should refrain from touching their faces, especially eyes, nose, and mouth.
Food industry workers should be checked daily for fever and anyone who is experiencing even the mildest symptoms of illness of any kind should stay home until they are confirmed to be COVID free.
Food workers should practice social distancing both at work and at home. Avoid people who are sick, avoid physical contact like hand-shaking and hugs, and avoid group gatherings except within your know safe social bubble.
In the event a food worker is confirmed COVID-19 positive, the company must report the incident to the local health department. Coworkers must also be notified and all areas the virus-positive worker may have touched need to be thoroughly disinfected.
Processing facilities are providing easy and frequent access to liquid soap, water, and alcohol-based sanitizers. Surfaces that are frequently touched must be regularly wiped clean and disinfected. Common areas such as lunchrooms, rest rooms, etc. must also be regularly disinfected to protect the spread of the virus in the workplace.
It is impressive to see how many businesses have implemented extensive operational and sanitization plans to keep their employees safe. Food manufacturers are staying abreast of the CDC guidelines and in many cases implementing even more stringent procedures. Careful orchestration of employees during shift change, hand sanitizers at every door, and disinfecting sprays in every room so that employees can work together to keep their environment safe. At Interra International, we are practicing these safety measures and for our employees as well as for our clients. Learn more about our commitment to quality.
The food safety team at Cornell University created a comprehensive website to provide the latest information to the food industry on food safety and safe operations. Learn more about these safety measures by clicking this link
With experts around the world contributing to the knowledge and safety standards during these challenging times, we are thankful for their insights and encourage everyone to have the discipline to follow each standard to the best of your ability. Strong guidance and strict adherence will get us through this…together.