HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — According to Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Department of Agriculture Food Safety Director Jeff Warner, there is no evidence that food or food packaging is associated with coronavirus transmission.
“I want to assure Pennsylvanians and ease their fear: food is safe,” said Warner. “There is no evidence of COVID-19 being transmissible through food or food packaging.”
Grocery stores, food manufacturers, and distributors have been provided guidance to protect their workforce and consumers from COVID-19. This includes the following CDC and FDA recommendations:
- Enforce social distancing in lines, separate customers and employees by six feet whenever possible.
- Implement visual cues, such as tape on the floor every six feet, to help customers keep a six-foot distance from others whenever possible.
- Install floor markings to require customers to stand behind, until it’s time to complete the transaction.
- Consider limiting the number of people in the store at one time. Implementing a maximum capacity and assigning staff to manage the number of people entering.
- Consider setting special hours for vulnerable populations, such as the elderly or immuno-compromised. Recommend allowing these populations to enter the store earliest in the day to reduce chances of exposure and ensure access to inventory.
Guidance was also provided for sanitization and employee protection, to further inhibit transmission in manufacturing environments and grocery stores. Some recommendations include:
- Do not allow symptomatic (fever of 100.4° F or greater, signs of a fever, or other symptoms) or ill employees to report for duty.
- Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces to limit employee contact and increase frequency of cleaning and sanitizing of common touch points (door handles, touch-screens, keypads).
- Consider altering store hours to allow for increased cleaning and re-stocking without customers present.
- Cross-train employees and rotate staff between cashier, stocking, and other duties, to limit mental fatigue in adhering to social distancing measures.
- Consider installing sneeze-guards at cashier stations.
- Schedule handwashing breaks every 30-60 minutes. Employees should wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%-95% alcohol may be used. However, if hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap and water.
- Assign a relief person to step in for cashiers so they can wash their hands with soap for a full 20 seconds. Provide hand lotion so workers’ hands don’t crack.
- Consider providing hand sanitizer at cash registers for staff and customer use in between transactions.
- Consider only operating every other register or check-out lane to create more social distance.