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  • Writer's pictureKim Kelly

What you need to know about coronavirus and food

It is very unlikely that you can catch coronavirus from food.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. It id not known to be transmitted by exposure to food or food packaging.

Any food handler who is unwell should not be at work. If they have symptoms, they should follow government advice and stay at home.

Although it is very unlikely that coronavirus is transmitted through food, as a matter of good hygiene practice anyone handling food should wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This should be done as a matter of routine, before and after handling food, and especially after being in a public place, blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing.

The World Health Organization advises that the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low. The risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is very low.

While food packaging is not known to present a specific risk, efforts should be made to ensure it is cleaned and handled in line with usual food safety practices.

Cleaning should be in line with food hygiene practice and the environmental controls set out in the business HACCP. Staff should continue to follow existing risk assessments and safe systems of working. No additional precautions need to be taken.

For takeaways and restaurants offering a pick up service, they should follow the instructions below:

>no orders should be taken in person on the premises, this should be communicated to customers by appropriate means such as signage

>businesses should therefore only take orders online or by telephone

>customers could have staggered collection times, customers should be discouraged from entering the premises until their order is ready

>customers arriving without having already placed an order should be encouraged to leave the premises to place their order by telephone or on-line, and to return at a designated time for collection

>customers whose orders are ready should enter one at a time to collect orders and make payments

>businesses should discourage crowding outside the premises. Where possible use queue management systems to maintain the 2 metres separation

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