Providing and Supplying Safe Food Through The COVID-19 Epidemic


Providing and Supplying Safe Food Through The COVID-19 Epidemic

Marshalee Valentine

Thursday, March 19, 2020

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It is understood that food establishments — whether restaurant, supermarkets, processing facilities — will need to remain open during this outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The European Food Safety Authority has meanwhile reported that there is no evidence that food is a source or transmission route for the disease.

COVID-19 needs a host (animal or human) to grow in and cannot grow in food.

However, failure to follow strict hygiene and sanitation practices can lead to transmission from one individual to the next by way of workers introducing the virus into the food they are working on or to the food contact surfaces in your food establishment.

Be reminded that the virus will infect a person if it comes into contact with nose, eyes or mouth through coughing and sneezing, or through hand contact.

Consequently, deep cleaning must take place if infected individuals are known to have been in your establishment. Regardless of whether or not an infected person has visited you will need to bump up our personal hygiene and sanitation programmes a notch during this period.

Here are some recommendations that may reduce risk of cross-contamination or exposure:


Practise proper hand hygiene. If you need to cough do so in a paper napkin and discard immediately then wash your hands.

If you have any symptoms, inform your manager and self-isolate.

Avoid close contact, when possible, with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

Quick Tip: Remember to wash hands:

Before starting work

Before handling cooked or ready-to-eat food A

fter handling or preparing raw food

After handling waste

After cleaning duties

After using the toilet

After blowing nose, sneezing or coughing

After eating, drinking or smoking

After handling money


Please be reminded that there is no need for employees without symptoms of infection with COVID-19 to be excused from work or to remain separate from other people.

Precautionary measures need to be taken to ensure that employees or customers who may be infected do not pose a risk to healthy individuals.

• Food establishment owners should ensure that staff are made aware of COVID-19 developments and follow all instructions as stated by the Government and Public Health Department.

• Review your supply chain and make any necessary changes on products arriving from countries which have an outbreak. You may also want to check your inventory for items that may have come in recently and quarantine/treat necessary items.

• Conduct refresher training on food hygiene and sanitation best practices for all members of the team.

• Create a hygiene and sanitation schedule and assign a sanitation and hygiene team leader, if not already implemented, to monitor personal hygiene and sanitation requirements.

• Management can instal additional soap and sanitiser dispensers, and, if feasible, additional handwashing stations. You may also want to increase your stock of soap, sanitiser and bleach. • Ensure food contact surfaces are sanitised at least four times per day.

• I would suggest that all food establishments implement temperature monitoring for staff and visitors. While the thermal scanners are not able to detect people who have the virus, they are nevertheless able to detect whether the individual has a fever, which is of course an indication that the individual may be carrying the illness.

• Provide visitors with hand sanitiser upon entry. I actually went to a popular lounge in St Andrew over the weekend and my hands were sprayed with white rum! If you have a bar or restaurant with adequate supply of spirits you can also try that fun option!

• Ensure staff and contractors are instructed to report any physical signs/symptoms, before commencing work or while in the workplace.

• Play your role and ensure that no staff members are ill while carrying out duties. If there are suspected cases within your organisation, relieve the employee to quarantine and contact the local emergency health lines.

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