We probably don’t need to tell you this, but it is the ethical and practical duty of restaurants to step up their food hygiene standards during a global pandemic. As the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has made very clear, a globally widespread disease has the potential to seriously disrupt the restaurant industry. As well as forcing food outlets to close around the world, the virus has made many people across a wide range of countries reticent to step back into hospitality premises for fear of becoming ill.
To assuage concerns, therefore, now is the time for food outlets, restaurants and other hospitality venues to prove their calibre when it comes to maintaining the strictest food hygiene standards. As well as protecting customers and potentially improving sales in a difficult market landscape, sorting out any hygiene issues now will prove that you are very capable of handling outbreaks in the future. This is very important considering the fact that COVID-19 may be with us for many more months or even years. It could even help you hit the ground running if another pandemic occurs at some point in the future.
Of course, there is no absolutely failsafe way to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, particularly considering the fact that we are yet to gain definitive answers about the most common routes of transmission. Preliminary evidence suggests it is primarily airborne, meaning it is more likely to be contracted through the air than by ingesting food. However, this is no reason to be complacent about food hygiene, as it is still perfectly possible that poor standards could lead to customers getting infected contributing to the spread of the virus.
If you’ve been concerned about the food hygiene standards of your business throughout the pandemic thus far, we’ve put together a helpful checklist of tips to help you improve.
1. Make sure every employee has completed a food safety course
This should be standard practice even in non-pandemic times. However, there is no time like the present. If any of your employees have failed to attain a food handling certificate, make sure that they complete one before they are allowed back in the kitchen. This will help them to understand the key principles of food safety and improve their ability to eliminate pathogens in the kitchen. If you’re wondering where they can get started, browse the AIA website today for more information about our online accredited courses.
2. Remind employees of the importance of disclosing a positive test
It is absolutely vital that any staff members who test positive for COVID-19 stay home and contact you as soon as possible to disclose their diagnosis. You can then set about informing people who have been in contact with this person to stop the disease from spreading further.
3. Remain alert to staff members displaying symptoms
If any servers or kitchen staff members start displaying symptoms of COVID-19 (or, indeed, any other kind of communicable disease), it is vital that you send them home as soon as possible. This could include, amongst other things, excessive sweating, a pallid complexion, or coughing. Remember that the chances of passing on nasty viruses such as coronavirus, norovirus, or flu via food are greatly increased if one of your chefs in unwell.
4. Remind employees not to come in if they are sick
This is rather obvious, but it is important. All employees should be reminded to self-isolate if they display symptoms of coronavirus including shortness of breath, a cough, a fever, or a loss of taste and smell. The same applies if a member of their household experiences such symptoms.
5. Try to space out work surfaces in the kitchen
Although this may not be possible in every establishment, you should try to ensure kitchen staff are able to maintain a distance of at least six metres between themselves. This will reduce the chances of your whole workforce falling ill if one person contracts the disease and, by extension, will help to reduce the chances of passing on the virus to customers. You may need to move work surfaces further apart than they were before the pandemic occurred. Fortunately, the fact that you will probably be serving fewer customers at the moment may make this easier to accommodate.
6. Purchase plenty of hand sanitiser
It is your responsibility as an employer to provide adequate soap and hand sanitiser for employees. With the pandemic ongoing, it is sensible to order both products in far higher quantities than you would usually.
7. Provide face screens and masks
It is a good idea to ask the kitchen staff to wear face screens and masks whilst preparing food to avoid any chances of virus transmission to food.
Find out more
For more on food safety and the AIA’s accredited courses, browse the website today.