Importance of food hygiene highlighted in light of Covid-19

Although it has been well-established that the Covid-19 virus cannot be carried through food, the importance of proper hygiene practices around food is still of paramount importance.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has highlighted that, although there is no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 is passed on through food, it is possible that food workers and/or consumers could introduce the virus to food by coughing, sneezing or through hand contact.

“It is therefore important that they strictly follow good personal hygiene practices. Customers and food businesses are expected to behave in a hygienic manner and food businesses are obliged to monitor such displays,” the FSAI said on its website.

Although thorough cooking would likely kill the virus, the virus could live on food for a period of time, and can also live for hours – or even days – on certain surfaces.

As well as direct transmission from person to person, the virus can also be passed indirectly by touching something that an infected person has coughed on, sneezed on or touched.

“It is possible that infected food workers could introduce the virus to the food they are working on, or onto surfaces within the food establishment, by coughing and sneezing, or through hand contact, unless they strictly follow good personal hygiene practices,” the FSAI outlined.

“Standard recommendations” for food hygiene should be kept in mind, including:

  • Proper hand hygiene;
  • Cough/cold hygiene practices;
  • Safe food practices;
  • Avoiding close contact, when possible, with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

Food businesses are being urged to ensure that social distancing advice is being adhered to in the work place, and to also ensure that their staff are properly trained and supervised in the area of food hygiene.

Businesses are also being called on to ensure that hand-washing facilities are made available.