Due to the widely publicized Coronavirus outbreak, food manufacturers face new challenges in preserving the integrity and food safety of their products. A practical, common sense approach can be easily implemented to minimize and control the spread of the disease including:
- Employees must wash and sanitize their hands after using the restroom and again prior to entering or returning to the production area.
- Coughing and sneezing should be controlled by covering one’s mouth to minimize the virus to be distributed airborne. Hands and any other surface, including clothing should be changed/sanitized after every incident. This is especially important for companies that do not provide company-issued protective garments such as frocks or uniforms.
- Additional hand sanitizer stations should be implemented to further encourage and increase the frequency of hand sanitation.
- Company policy should encourage and support the reporting of all illness-related issues, up to and including, employees being sent home and not returning without first being released by a doctor.
The current food safety program should also be reviewed and take into account the following:
- Awareness- Has your organization conducted and educated their employees about the disease and the importance of taking the appropriate steps to minimize the spread?
- Handwashing- Are practices and procedures current, effective, and being followed consistently? Who is responsible for monitoring and accountability?
These recommendations are the foundation and an integral part of the food safety system. These may be seen as basic requirements of a GMP program and not often given their due respect, but their impact on food safety is huge and a critical component.