In order to help food businesses throughout the state navigate the COVID-19 crisis, the NSW Food Authority emailed food businesses their newly released guidelines.
The guidelines, which are published on the NSW health authority website, outline the food safety effects from COVID-19, workforce impacts of the pandemic and practical steps that food businesses can take to protect their workforce.
What food businesses need to know
Key points shared in the published information include:
- COVID-19 is not a food-borne disease
- Businesses need to review their operations and consider what other measures should be implemented to reduce the impact of COVID-19
- Businesses with good preparations and procedures in place can minimise the impact of an employee diagnosed with COVID-19
There was considerable emphasis on food safety precautions such as ensuring all food workers practise frequent hand washing and enforcing strict requirements about health and hygiene. Thorough cleaning and sanitising, and the need to sanitise more items than normal, was also highlighted. Items that should be included in an updated cleaning and sanitising schedule include door handles, light switches, floors and walls.
Protecting the workforce
The information provided by the NSW Food Authority puts great emphasis on protecting the workforce. Details in the guidelines include:
- Reviewing the health status of staff and ensuring they don’t work while sick
- The importance of good hand hygiene
- Increasing time between shifts or service periods
- Limiting the number of people who come into contact with each other in the workplace
- Reviewing customer entry points and interactions to ensure social distancing
- Reviewing staff roles and points of contact
- Having staff get flu shots
- Reassuring staff where possible
More information food businesses need to consider
The guidelines also contain useful information on dealing with sick customers and sick employees (including those waiting on COVID-19 tests and those confirmed to have COVID-19). Food businesses can also learn more about changes that will be made to audits and inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more information, read the guidelines in full on the NSW Health Authority website.