- Keeping business going: Assess what can be done remotely and what must be done on-site Identify critical roles and where possible replicate competencies.
- Adapt and survive: Self-isolation or sickness may mean an influx of temporary staff and increased churn rates – use effective training for temporary staff.
- Use your existing systems to manage risk and change effectively: Food Safety Management System, Food Safety Culture, Risk assessments, change protocols, food safety and Health and Safety.
New Things to Consider
- Protect your employees: Stay physically safe if remote working is required; review safe working systems. Staff sickness – use return to work following sickness protocols but adapt them for COVID-19 refer to WHO for isolation and timing. Review regularly when advice is updated from Government and/or WHO
- Keep your employees’ family safe: Maintain/set up hygiene junctions entering and leaving work.
- Social Distancing may not work in the production environment: different ways of working may have to be introduced, assume everyone is a symptomless carrier. Use PPE as required and put in place effective robing and disrobing protocols.
- Minimising cross-contamination: Compartmentalizing workforce into discrete zones will help minimise spread across zones risks if staff contract COVID-19. Colour coded staff zoning procedures – hairnets/hats, aprons, armbands may be useful visual aids. Treat as if it’s an allergen, each zone a fresh allergen.
- Control visitors: Audits and visitors – avoid unless absolutely essential as staff shortages may be occurring, particularly due to site contamination risk.
- Don’t forget allergens: You may have to change suppliers due to material supply disruption. The same supplier may supply the same ingredient, but from a different site – review the allergen profile for the new site or supplier
- Don’t forget food fraud and counterfeiting. Use TACCP/VACCP to review as required
- Don’t forget food safety: A reduction in Stock Keeping Units could lead to increased Raw Materials demand, cleaning protocols, process intermediates, equipment/containers. Beware long production runs between cleans leading to a build-up of slow grow/biofilm-producing pathogens - Listeria, Bacillus, Staphylococcus, Clostridium, and their spoilage variants, and spoilers like yeasts, moulds, Pseudomonas and lactics. Introduce break changes in sanitary protocols as identified by risk assessment.
- Don’t forget air quality and ventilation: Good ventilation is encouraged to help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. If you use a centralised ventilation system that removes and circulates air to different rooms, it is recommended that you turn off recirculation and use a fresh air supply. You do not need to adjust other types of air conditioning systems. If you’re unsure, speak to your heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers or advisers. Further advice can be found from HSE and REHVA.
COVID-19 Cleaning and Sanitation
- Always clean surfaces (remove debris and dirt) prior to the application of a suitable disinfectant
- Bear in mind that some classes of disinfectant chemical may need rinsing after application prior to the surface coming into contact with food.
- With specific regard to the control of novel Coronavirus, common touchpoints must also be risk assessed and considered as well as food contact surfaces.
See these guides for further practical advice:
- Department of Transport and HSE guidance relating to delivery
- WHO Coronaviruses Q&A
- WHO food safety guidance for food businesses
- WHO Commentary: Transmission of SARS-CoV-2: implications for infection prevention precautions
- UK Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology Analysis reports on COVID-19
- UK Government (BEIS) Advice on Working Safely
- Public Health England Guidance for food businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Public Health England Novel Coronavirus background information
- Public Health England guidance flowchart on return to work
- Food Standards Agency 'Here to Help' food business help webpages
- Food Standards Agency - Adapting food manufacturing operations during COVID-19
- Food Standards Agency - Adapting restaurants and food businesses for takeaway and food delivery during COVID-19
- Food Standards Agency - Adapting agricultural and primary production operations during COVID-19
- Food Standards Scotland Guidance for food business operators and their employees
- SOFHT Guidance to Cleaning & Disinfection Regime with respect to Coronavirus
- Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Guidance for preventing transmission of COVID-19 within food businesses - Updated guidance (2 Aug 21)
- Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) COVID-19 and Food Safety Guidance for food businesses advice
- Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Policy briefs on COVID-19
- UK Government food sector business guidance during COVID-19:
- Welsh Government guidance for prevention and management of COVID-19 in food plants
- European Commission Q&As on COVID-19
- EFSA Guidance
- Food Safety Authority of Ireland
- FDA Coronavirus guidance
- General GMP Advice
- UK Joint Biosecurity Centre (BSI) Food & Drink Action Cards
- UK Joint Biosecurity Centre (BSI) Commercial Workplaces Action Cards
- UK Joint Biosecurity Centre (BSI) Industrial Workplaces Action Cards
- UK Joint Biosecurity Centre (BSI) Small & Large Gatherings Workplace Action Cards
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Testing in High-Density Critical Infrastructure Workplaces
- BSI Safe Working Practices
- Public Health England Information Sheet A What is an Outbreak Food Manufacturer
- Public Health England Testing_Covid19_Food Manufacturer
- Public Health England ContactTracing_Covid19_Food Manufacturer
- Public Health England key outbreak management definitions Food Manufacturer
- Public Health England guidance Covid-19 outbreaks for staff and managers - food manufacturers
- Public Health England Info sheet_HandHygiene_COVID19_Food Manufacturer_v1.0
- Public Health England Info_sheet_RespiratoryHygiene_COVID19_Food Manufacturer_v1.0
- Public Health England Info_sheetK_Cohorting_COVID19_Food Manufacturer_v1.0
- Public Health England AntibodyTests_Covid19_Food Manufacturer
- Public Health England Info_sheetJ_FaceCoverings_COVID19_Food Manufacturer_v1.0
- Public Health England Info_sheetE_Temperature_COVID19_Food Manufacturer_v1.0
- Health & Safety Executive (HSE) guidance on air handling, circulation and ventilation
- Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) guidance on considerations relating to COVID-19 impact - how to operate and use building services to minimise the spread of the virus
European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group (EHEDG) EHEDG Doc. 47 - Guidelines on Air Handling Systems in the Food Industry - Air Quality Control for Building Ventilation
Ventilation actions to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 from SAGE Environment and Modelling Group *NEW*
- IFST's Guidance on Testing Individuals for Coronavirus (updated)
- IFST's Guidance on Testing Food, Packaging or Production Facilities for Coronavirus (updated)
- Joint IFST, SOFHT & FBIG Cleaning & Disinfection Technical Fact Sheet
- Good Manufacturing Practice 7th Edition (GMP7) Chapter 21 - Cleaning and Sanitation
- IFST's Guidance on SARS-COV-2 Sampling and Testing
- IFST's Restarting your food business checklist
- IFST's Professional Distribution Drivers Guidance
- IFST Sensory & Consumer Science Guidelines for Running Testing
- BRCGS Food Safety during COVID-19 Guidance
- BRCGS guidance on social distancing in warehouses and distribution centres
- Aqualution Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
- Compound Interest - How to kill coronavirus
- Compound Interest- How to test for coronavirus
- FDF COVID 19 advice
- UK Hospitality advice for the hospitality industry
- Northern Ireland Food & Drink Industry Good Manufacturing Practice COVID-19 Advice
- GFSI advice and position
- GFSI news and updates
- CIEH - COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses
- CIEH - COVID-19: shipping and seaports guidance
- CIEH - COVID-19: cleaning in non-healthcare settings
- CIEH - Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for local government
- ESGLI Guidance for managing Legionella in building water systems during the COVID-19 pandemic
- BSI guidance on safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic
- BSI report: Safe working in the ‘new normal’
- BSI Supply Chain Risk Insights 2020 Report
- FoodFarmHelp - COVID Winter Response Project
- The Knowledge Transfer Network https://ktn-uk.co.uk/ has established a Covid-19 hub containing information about funding, links to online events, requests for support to help combat COVID-19 and its impact and links to business support sites.
- FSA E-learning for staff:
on labelling https://labellingtraining.food.gov.uk/
on traceability https://traceabilitytraining.food.gov.uk/
on allergens https://allergytraining.food.gov.uk/
on vacuum packing https://vacuumpackingtraining.food.gov.uk/introduction/
on root cause analysis https://rcatraining.food.gov.uk/#home
- FSA training videos on 4C’s - hand washing, cross-contamination, clean, cook, chill
- Highfields Free COVID-19 training https://www.highfieldelearning.com/covid-19
- Future Learn COVID-19 courses
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control COVID-19 courses
This section is part of our COVID-19 Knowledge Hub. IFST have created a COVID-19 Knowledge Hub to consolidate advice, practical guidance and links to resources to support individuals, smaller food businesses and larger food operations. Find out more here.
Regarding 'Track and Trace', official guidance has now been provided to prevent false positives for specific workplace scenarios when the phone is not on your person, such as when your phone is in lockers. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-workplace-guidance
Once you’ve downloaded the NHS COVID-19 app, it should be left on as much as possible. However, there are some specific workplace scenarios when the phone is not on your person, such as when your phone is in lockers when you should pause the contact tracing feature by turning off 'contact tracing' on the home screen of the NHS COVID-19 App.
You can find further guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-workplace-guidance