Food Safety, Jobs in the Time of COVID-19
How badly did I NOT want to put Coronavirus (Covid-19) in the title of this article?
This article is focused on the best practices that we should all be practicing in our food facilities, global pandemic or not. I was torn on the addition of “Covid-19,” but decided to go with the most important things keeping our food manufacturing and food preparations running and keeping jobs and creating commerce: food safety. This article is focused on the best practices that we should all be practicing in our food facilities, global pandemic or not.
“We have always had best practices in sanitation (SSOPs) and good manufacturing practices (GMPs) that are the foundation of our food safety plans.” Said one manufacturer. “Working with organizations like ConnectFood allows us to continue to refine our best practices and paperwork and have continuous improvement on our already stellar best practices.” ConnectFood food is not the only organization (nor anywhere near the largest) tackling global food safety issues and the impact Covid-19 has on our manufacturing.
The above quote is what I really want to talk about. ConnectFood works with thousands of companies to help them understand Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), Standard Sanitation Operating Procedures (SSOP’s), and food safety. In a time of crisis, the most important thing to continue is communication. Do all of your employees fully understand the areas of your GMPs and their impact on food safety and human health?
Covid-19 is not a foodborne illness issue, but transmission can be impacted by sanitation and personal hygiene best practices (GMPs).
We can keep producing safe, healthy food with a safe, healthy workforce in this environment. Having all organizations working together in the fight to keep manufacturing growing, collectively we can use the resources set out by Industry, Academia, and Government.
Constant education in a food manufacturing facility is the way we address new, current, and part-time employment. It is the way we address corrective actions. Sanitation and hand washing is not a new concept, but in a time like this we need to make sure all members of our companies understand the importance. Your company should have these practices in place, so a refresher course on the procedures may be wise during this time of heightened awareness for human health for all and encourage your employees to take these best practices home.
Some other questions that we are fielding refer to food that was manufactured in other countries that have been on the news for transmitting cases of Covid-19. The main question has been, “is that food safe?” My response was that if you felt comfortable eating that food in the past, you should continue to use that product from a trusted manufacturer.
What happens if there is an issue?
If public health is notified that a household has had contact or a potential infection, follow guidance from clinicians and your department of public health. In a manufacturing setting, if an employee does not feel “well” they should stay home just as with any illness to prevent spreading it throughout the facility.
Keeping the food supply safe and operating is crucial to all communities around the world so that households not only have food for active healthy lifestyles and the ability to pay bills, but also to enjoy themselves. I suggest to you that food safety plays a monumental role in this and how we address the current Covid-19 situation.
Speak with your employees frequently, but especially more so in a time of crisis or on an allotted timetable. We can all work together to keep a safe and healthy food supply. This includes keeping people at work and in jobs that make a difference.
Here are some links that I found helpful while researching Covid-19:
FDA Resource: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/food-safety-and-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19
USDA Resource: https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2020/03/17/usda-ensures-food-safety-during-covid-19-outbreak
Stay safe, stay healthy, and don’t forget to wash your hands!
About the Author
Matthew Botos is the CEO of ConnectFood. ConnectFood offers an online food safety plan generator to help companies comply with Food Safety Regulations and the Food Safety Modernization Act. ConnectFood provides On-Demand plan reviews and writing services from a national network of food experts. Matthew Botos is the former Director of the Illinois Center for Food Safety and Technology, a non-profit consortium of Illinois food companies, regulatory personnel and academics focused on food safety and the advancement of science and technology for both local and global food sources. Mr. Botos is currently on the Food Safety and Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA) International Subcommittee. He is also one of approximately 40 approved Train the Trainer instructors of the FSPCA Lead Instructor program launched in October 2015 and has taught over 1,000 of the nation’s leading food safety experts.