Published 29 March 2020
Scientists don’t fully understand all transmission routes for COVID-19, so it is essential that proper food safety techniques and sanitary food handling are practiced in order to minimize its spread.
There are 3 main ways that the coronavirus spreads between humans:
For a person to become infected, the coronavirus must come into contact with the person’s mouth, nose or eyes. This often happens when people touch their face after their hands have been contaminated by the virus. Regular and effective hand washing can prevent this.
Recent research indicates droplets from coughing and sneezing can travel about 2 meters, or 6 feet, and that viruses can live on objects or surfaces for up to 9 days. At this stage it is thought that the coronavirus can’t be airborne for a long period of time, however information is changing all the time as scientists learn more.
Whilst it is best to keep a safe distance from people who are displaying flu-like symptoms, it is important to note that some people who are carrying the virus may be asymptomatic. In other words, they are carrying the virus but they are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. It may still be possible to contract COVID-19 from asymptomatic people.
There are some actions that every food worker can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
First, it’s important that food workers remain at home and isolate themselves if they — or someone they’ve had close contact with — are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Food workers must not work if they think they may have been exposed to the coronavirus.
Regular hand washing using the proper technique is key to stopping the spread of COVID-19. Food workers must use soap and warm water, and scrub their hands for at least twenty seconds. If hand washing facilities are not available, then hand sanitizer may be used. Hand sanitizer must be at least 60% alcohol to be effective against the coronavirus.
Cleaning and sanitizing can kill the coronavirus. Be sure to sanitize items that are touched frequently such as door handles, light switches and soap dispensers. In many food businesses these types of items are cleaned but not sanitized, so it’s important to reconsider the business’ Cleaning and Sanitizing Schedule during the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the coronavirus, some large chains have started sanitizing high traffic areas every 8 minutes.
Food workers must also re-familiarize themselves with other personal hygiene requirements such as coughing and sneezing etiquette, and workwear requirements at the workplace.
At present, scientists don’t fully understand all transmission routes for this coronavirus, so it is essential that good food safety techniques such as effective temperature control and sanitary food handling are practiced throughout the entire business in order to minimize its spread.