Food firms offered new Covid-19 guidance

The government has published new guidance setting out how a range of food businesses should continue to function during the coronavirus lockdown.

Supermarkets have recently put in place policies to avoid a repeat of scenes from March where crowds of shoppers stripped shelves of vital supplies. New retailer measures supported by the government include limiting the number of customers in store at any one time and putting floor markers two metres apart around checkout areas.

Produced by the FSA and Defra, the guidance states that workplace canteens can remain open where there are no practical alternatives for staff to obtain food but that a distance of two metres should be maintained between users. It calls for notices promoting hand hygiene and social distancing to be visible on sites and if possible the number of hand washing stations available to be increased.

For takeaways and restaurants offering a pick-up service, the advice is for businesses to only take orders online or by telephone. Customers whose orders are ready are advised to enter one at a time, while businesses are being asked to discourage crowding outside the premises by using queue management systems that maintain a two metre separation.

Social distancing guidelines also apply, where feasible, to food processing facilities. Where people have no choice but to work in close proximity, such as on production lines, the government is advising that measures should be put in place to protect employees such as the use of personal protective equipment.

Current evidence suggests it is very unlikely that coronavirus can be caught by exposure to food. The government says the risk of catching the virus from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures is also very low, but says that efforts should be made to ensure that food packaging is cleaned and handled in line with usual food safety practices.

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