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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Food Safety – What Can Food Workers Do?

Personal hygiene by food handlers and stringent cleaning and sanitizing of food handling and serving services are critically important for all food-related establishments.

Sick personnel should never be allowed in food handling areas.

Public health officials say that asymptomatic infections, particularly those in the early and later stages of a COVID-19 virus infection, are highly probable. This means asymptomatic persons can be actively shedding the virus through coughs, sneezes, sputum, and mucous, which can then contaminate foods and food handling surfaces.

Personnel exhibiting respiratory infection symptoms of any degree should be required to stay away from food products and work surfaces. Sick employees should not return to work until they have had no symptoms for for at least 48 hours.
Follow these standard hygiene procedures to reduce exposure and transmission:
? proper hand hygiene
? cough/cold hygiene practices
? safe food practices
? avoiding close contact, when possible, with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing

Food handlers must wash hands:
? before starting work
? before handling cooked or ready-to-eat food
? after 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

Good hygiene, cleaning and sanitizing are also important to avoid cross contamination between raw or undercooked foods and cooked or ready-to eat-foods in the kitchen.

As an added precaution, if you work with food and have suspected symptoms of respiratory illness, you must inform your employer, avoid preparing food for other people and seek medical attention.

The Bottom Line:

Food handlers must not work when sick. At time of print there is no vaccine or cure for COVID-19.
Set an example for other works. Practice good personal hygiene and clean and sanitize all food contact surfaces frequently and thoroughly. These are your best defence tools against this virus, AND other pathogens in your food establishment.