Food Safety

Controlling Covid-19 Begins with Employee Safety

This is a respiratory illness

The FDA and USDA are working hard to keep people safe in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, both at home and in food processing facilities.  We know that the virus is not transmissible via the food we eat, but rather transmits between people who are close to each other (within 6 ft), when an infected person coughs or sneezes on someone else.  This is a respiratory illness – not a gastrointestinal virus.

The WHO (World Health Organization) recently said in its interim guidance for food businesses that it was “highly unlikely” that people can contract Covid-19 from the food they eat or the food packaging.  Coronaviruses need a human or animal host to multiply.

The Key is to Prevent Transmission Among Workers

It is important that all members of the food industry manage food safety risks and reinforce personal hygiene methods within their organizations. The key is to prevent the transmission of the virus among workers in food production facilities, packaging and further processing areas.  In addition to following current food safety protocols, stepped-up measures are needed to protect the workers.

This could include, for example, temperature checks of employees, a series of special training programs including how COVID-19 is spread, refresher courses on good hygiene protocols, when and why to stay home and why social distancing is relevant.  Why do we need to be six feet apart? This eliminates the chance of being hit by fluid particles that carry the virus when someone with COVID-19 sneezes or coughs.  This means the elimination of close contact during breaks and meetings is critical as well as limiting the number of employees in specific areas.

Workers should be reminded to practice social distancing when they are at home and away from work as well. For an in-depth summary on social distancing procedures, please refer to Social Distancing Protocol. This, along with a number of helpful resources can be found at – AFFI Food Safety Zone.

Workers should continue to wear PPE (personal protective equipment) such as masks, and gloves.  While these are already used in many food processing facilities, they are now required by farms, distributors and retail locations.  Cloth masks (NOT N95 masks) and disposable gloves are needed along with the availability of liquid soap, water, hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes to employees.  There is nothing better than a frequent hand washing including a 20 second scrub of hands and arms.

Surfaces that are frequently touched, like door handles, light switches, workstations, keyboards, computer controls etc. cannot be overlooked and should be disinfected and sanitized frequently with the use of products recommended against SARS-CoV-2 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Facilitating the supply of such items ensures the worker’s safety and the safety of the community as well.

Covid-19 is highly contagious. If an employee has been exposed to COVID-19, guidelines issued by the CDC should be followed, which states “To ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, CDC advises that critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.”

The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) provides reliable and valuable resources to assist members of the food industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Please be sure to visit their website at – AFFI Food Safety Zone.

AFFI is launching a new conversation series to give attendees the opportunity to learn from their peers about the programs and interventions they have put in place to mitigate the risk of COVID-19.

Conversation # 1

Essential First Steps: Make a Plan & Engage Government Officials

Join AFFI for the first conversation next Tuesday, June 2, at 2 p.m. EST to discuss how to perform a risk assessment in your facilities to establish mitigation interventions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and receive guidance on how to communicate with government officials at the local and state level. As closures due to COVID-positive illnesses occur, either voluntarily or by regulatory action, it is important to have an existing relationship with your state and local agencies. Join us to discuss all of the above and answer the following questions:

  1. How have you evolved your mitigation plan to reflect new guidance, research and science?
  2. In anticipation of a second wave of infection, how will your existing COVID-19 plan help protect your operations and workers?
  3. How can you most effectively engage with your local and state officials and maintain those relationships in preparation of a second wave of illnesses?



  1. Food Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic, May 2020, Volume 74 5, Toni Tarver –
  2. Food Safety and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) –
  4. CDC Guidelines for Manufacturing Workers and Employers –
  5. Social Disctancing Protocol –














  1. 対応計画を更新して新しいガイダンスや研究結果を反映した内容にしましたか?
  2. 第2波が発生する可能性も見越したうえで、現行のCOVID-19対応計画は、業務と従業員の保護にどのように役立ちますか?
  3. 第2波への準備として、自治体および州の行政担当者とどのように連携し、関係を維持しておくのが最も効果的ですか?






  1. Food Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic(COVID-19パンデミックの間の食品安全性), May 2020, Volume 74 No. 5, Toni Tarver –
  2. Food Safety and the Coronavirus Disease 2019(食品安全性とCOVID-19) –
  4. CDC Guidelines for Manufacturing Workers and Employers(製造業の労働者および雇用主のためのCDCガイドライン) –
  5. Social Disctancing Protocol(ソーシャルディスタンスプロトコル) –

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