3 important safety tips to practice during the COVID-19 health crisis
With the nation battling the coronavirus, restaurateurs have converted their businesses to all off-premises dining to safely serve guests who are social distancing.
Larry Lynch, The National Restaurant Association’s senior vice president of Certification & Operations, says it’s imperative for operators to continue enforcing their safe food-handling protocols to help protect the public health while continuing to serve customers. He says operators practicing these three simple rules will achieve that goal.
- Create a safe, clean environment. “Let’s focus on employees first. Reinforce good hand hygiene with your staff members. Everyone must continually wash his or her hands. Yes, hand sanitizers are good to have on hand, but they’re never a replacement for a vigorous 20 seconds of hand washing.
Make it as easy as possible for your employees to walk to the nearest handwashing station. Do not put restrictions on the time needed to do that and emphasize the importance of using proper handwashing technique. Make sure the sink is accessible and stocked with soap and paper towels.
Also, remind everyone to avoid touching their mouths, noses and eyes. That’s the easiest way to transmit the virus. And if you touch any surface, do not take any chances; wash your hands!”
- Enhance your sanitation efforts. “Frequently clean the surfaces people come into contact with. That includes anything they touch or breathe on. And don’t just clean and sanitize surfaces once in a while; do it constantly.
Also, check the cleaning products and sanitizers you’re using and make sure that they’re products that the Environmental Protection Agency has sanctioned — and follow the guidelines the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends — as effective in protecting against the virus’ spread.“
- Make sure customers know you’re practicing food safety. “The public is overwhelmed with information about the virus. Some of it is true, some not so true. That’s why it’s important you do two things:
- Demonstrate that you’re implementing best practices and be prepared to share with them why ordering food from your restaurant is safe. Reassure your customers that you know the best practices recommended by the CDC, EPA, FDA and others, and that you are following those recommendations.
- Relay to them that your team is preparing the food safely, packaging it securely, and that you have created a contactless environment for the customer — from the point where the order leaves the restaurant to the point where they receive it.”
Lynch also offered restaurateurs one final piece of advice: “Be knowledgeable about the safety of food and its preparation, based on FDA guidance. Your ability to be your customer’s ‘trusted advisor,’ by being knowledgeable and able to point to recognized sources, will put them at ease.”
Stay up to date on all restaurant-related COVID-19 information, resources, advocacy and best practices on the Association’s COVID-19 information and resources page.