Virtual food safety training during the COVID-19 pandemic
The global health threat posed by COVID-19 has caused a shift in our economy, society and lifestyle. Many countries have introduced strategies to reduce mobility of people to curb the spread of the virus. These strategies has resulted in many people conducting business virtually through platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts. As many food-service businesses have started to re-open, virtual food safety training has taken a front row in educating food handlers on food safety risks during COVID-19 era.
Why food safety virtual trainings are important in the age of COVID-19
With the re-opening of the food-service industry it is very crucial to educate staff on measures to prevent exposure to COVID-19. Moreover, the constant information emerging on COVID-19 has shown that it is vital to have refresher training on food hygiene principles which can be implemented to reduce the risk of infection from COVID-19 virus or food-borne pathogens. For example, recent research on COVID-19 has shown that the virus can be viable up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, up to four hours on copper, and up to 24 hours on cardboard. Given this information it clearly shows that there is a risk of contamination of the food packaging with the virus hence it is imperative for staff to receive food safety training and skills required to ensure that they protect themselves and customers from any infection.
Here are some key factors included in food safety training during this COVID-19 pandemic;
- Constantly refer with your local health department for protocols and guidance on measures required to open business and run it smoothly.
- An assessment should be done to identify frequently touch points which need to be cleaned and sanitized regularly.
- For restaurants offering buffets the serving should be done in a hygienic manner and servers should be responsible for serving customers.
- Procedures of how confirmed cases (staff)and their contacts are excluded from food premises.
- Procedures on how to handle the primary food packaging after receiving food from the supplier.
If no other visual assessments or inspections are to be done the likelihood that many organisations will consider virtual food safety training as their ‘new normal’ is high as this provides saving on travel expenses and office space.
''Food safety is everyone's business, now and in the future. No matter what else is going on, every single person still needs safe food every day'' Markus Lipp