How can their risk of COVID-19 infection be minimised?
As our understanding of the ways in which COVID-19 can be spread develops, so has the realisation that additional measures need to be taken to protect us all.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend5 that everyone should,
- wash their hands regularly;
- cover their mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing;
- avoid close contact (<2 meters) with anyone coughing and sneezing.
WHO are also currently finalising work on guidance for the food industry in relation to control of SARS-CoV-2. The purpose of this guidance is not primarily aimed at food safety but at maintaining the integrity of the food chain and ensuring that adequate and safe food supplies are available for consumers, by limiting the spread of COVID-19 amongst key food industry workers. WHO stressed the importance of measures aimed at keeping the virus out of key worker environments, through raised awareness of COVID-19 symptoms; immediate reporting of any signs of illness; enforcement of fitness to work protocols; and exclusion from the workplace. They also stressed the need for continued and additional measures to minimise the spread of infection, i.e., handwashing and respiratory etiquette; physical distancing of staff; and good hygiene and sanitation practices, including more frequent sanitation of ‘high touch points’. WHO guidance is will be available on their website www.who.int as soon as it is available.
Governments and regulatory bodies within each country are also issuing guidance on how to minimise the spread of SARS-CoV-2, including specific guidance for food businesses. For example, the UK Government has recently issued the following, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-food-businesses/, which covers,
- What you need to know about coronavirus and food;
- Food Hygiene guidance;
- Food packaging;
- Cleaning and waste disposal;
- Managing employee sickness;
- Social distancing in specific food business settings including,
- Food processing plants;
- Staff canteens and rest areas;
- Take away and restaurants offering a pick-up service; and
- Outdoor food markets/farmers markets.
And we have already seen many food industry manufacturers and retailers implementing their own measures to protect their workforce and the public from COVID-19. These include, in manufacturing, the distancing of workers on lines, and provision of facemask/shields and local hand sanitiser stations; and, in supermarkets, distancing markers and one-way transit routes through stores for the public; and the use of sanitising wipes for cleaning of trolley and baskets handles; screens between till staff and the public; greater use of contactless payment cards and restriction on the use of personal shopping bags.
Manufactures of PPE (including face masks and gloves), cleaning chemicals and equipment, and those that distribute and sell them, are working around the clock to support food manufacturing and retail. These goods and services are essential to the continued provision of safe food. Consequently, similar steps are being taken to protect the staff involved in their delivery.
Cleaning has never been more important. The key workers at Vikan are deeply committed to continuing to provide professional grade cleaning tools to the food industry, to help them minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection amongst their workforce and ensure the continued production of safe food. Vikan are prioritising the health and well-being of our employees by following appropriate guidance, and we encourage everyone to do the same.
Additionally, Vikan has written a White Paper that provides sound, practical information on how to minimise the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, through good cleaning and disinfection practices, and can be accessed here.
As always, the Vikan Hygiene Team are providing support and advice to the industry through participation in on-line COVID-19 updates and forums, and our Technical Sales Teams are available to answer your hygiene questions and help you find the right solution.