Coronavirus Considerations and Food Processing

25 Mar 2020

The World Health Organization (OMS) reports on standard recommendations to be followed by all those who make food to reduce exposure and transmission as well as a variety of diseases.

Can COVID-19 (coronavirus) be transmitted through food?

Experience with other diseases like SARS and MERS suggests that people have not been infected with the virus through food. Covid-19 is unlikely to be transmitted through food and there is still no evidence that this occurs, as specified by EFSA.

Coronaviruses are transmitted more frequently between animals and people and from person to person. The virus is transmitted: directly, through contact with the body fluids of an infected person (for example, drops when coughing or sneezing); indirectly, through contact with surfaces on which an infected person has coughed or sneezed. Current information suggests that the virus can survive a few hours on the surface of objects, but simple household disinfectants can kill it.

What can food industry workers do to avoid infection?

It is important for food industry workers to take precautions more intensively. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that standard recommendations are maintained to reduce exposure and transmission as well as a variety of diseases. These include:

  • proper hand

  • hygiene cough / cold hygiene practices

  • hygiene practices in food handling

  • avoid close contact, when possible, with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illnesses such as coughing and sneezing

Food and food distribution workers should wash their hands:

  • before starting work

  • before handling cooked or ready-to-eat food

  • after handling or preparing raw food

  • after handling waste

  • after cleaning tasks

  • after using the bathroom

  • after blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing

  • after eating, drinking or smoking

  • after handling money

Good hygiene and cleanliness are also important to avoid cross-contamination between raw or undercooked food and cooked or ready-to-eat food.

What can food industry owners and managers do?

Food operators must ensure that their employees are aware of the status and evolution of the Covid-19 and the health advice provided by the health authorities. At the same time, they must know that they have responsibilities in accordance with current food legislation and must maintain adequate hygiene practices at all times in their establishments.

Therefore, they should:

  • Ensure that personnel are adequately trained in food hygiene.

  • Ensure effective supervision of staff to reinforce hygiene practices.

  • Provide the correct facilities, such as hand washing, toilets, so that staff can practice good hygiene.

  • Make sure staff do not have any physical signs or symptoms before starting work or while they are on the job site. 

  • Stay alert and make sure the staff is not sick and fit to work.

  • You can assess staff who they consider to be ill.

Source: Eurocarne Digital