Coronavirus and Food Safety – Fitness to Work
With the threat of coronavirus, ensuring that your staff are fit to work is more important than ever. You should ensure that that your employees tell you:
- if they develop a continuous cough and/or a high temperature at home or whilst at work
- if they live with someone who has developed a new continuous cough or a high temperature
- if they are in a vulnerable group at more risk of developing serious complications of coronavirus
- if they have helped someone at work who has been unwell with a new continuous cough or high temperature.
Categories (a) & (b)
Tell them to either stay or return home immediately and self-isolate as per the UK Government guidelines:
Allow them to either stay at home or work from home. For further guidance click here:
They do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves. However, they must wash and dry their hands thoroughly after contact with the unwell person.
Return to work
Even when Government guidance indicates that it is safe for other workers to return to work, food handlers should not be working with food if it is likely that they will need to cough in the vicinity of food. This is to prevent the spread of food poisoning bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus which is carried in the nose, throat and mouth.
All staff should be reminded that thorough handwashing is essential to prevent the spread of coronavirus, they must:
- wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
- use a paper towel to switch off hand operated taps
- dry hands thoroughly with disposable paper towels
- wash hands before eating, drinking or smoking
- wash hands before touching their mouth, nose, eyes or any wounds
- use a disposable tissue when they cough, sneeze or blow your nose
- wash hands after using tissues and going to the toilet
Food handlers must be particularly diligent to also wash their hands:
- when entering the kitchen e.g. after a break and/or smoking
- before handling ready-to-eat foods
- before preparing or packing food items
- after handling deliveries
- after handling raw food and unwashed fruit and veg and its packaging
- after removing waste
- after cleaning
- before putting on or taking off disposable gloves
Increase the frequency of sanitising hand contact points such as:
- door/drawer handles, knobs, dials, touch screens, keypads
- equipment (ensure that smaller items go through the dishwasher)
- handwash basins, soap and towel dispensers, sanitiser bottles
- cleaning equipment itself
- food ingredient or packaging containers
These principles apply in the workplace too so ensure that:
- employees keep at least 2 metres away from each other when working whenever possible
- employees keep at least 2 metres away from each other when in canteens or rest areas.
- work start times are staggered to control the flow of people at the entrances to places of work or into work areas.
- posters are displayed reminding employees to wash hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds and to socially distance from each other
- additional hand wash facilities or additional hand sanitiser stations are provided.
Complete all your usual daily checks and your management checks and keep your records up to date.
Document your coronavirus precautions and ensure that your staff are clear on what they need to tell you and what they need to do whilst at work. Supervise staff closely to ensure that they follow these precautions.
The advice on coronavirus precautions is changes daily and you should keep abreast of the latest developments in government guidance here:
There is also government guidance specifically for food businesses here:
There are several useful resources such as posters available to help to communicate the key messages of handwashing in the workplace:
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01442 877322 if we can help further.