February 28, 2021
As we usher in the new year with the hope and promise of effective vaccines to diminish the devastating impact that COVID-19 has had on our food facilities and our lives in 2020, we must remain vigilant as we begin 2021! Some of the fatigue of a long and drawn-out fight against the spread of the pandemic can allow us to let down our guard. But if anything, the pandemic has taught us is that proper handwashing along with cleaning and sanitizing contact surfaces regularly, is important before, during and after the pandemic is gone.
A system to monitor employees’ health and restrict those with symptoms should have been in place well before the pandemic and certainly should continue after the pandemic. A true food safety culture does not look at food safety and good hygienic practices as a race to the finish line but as an ongoing journey. A conclusion in a recent report from Purdue University’s Department of Food Science stated, “The hygienic actions that reduce the risk for foodborne illness also reduce the risk for the virus.” (Feng, 2020). And the same can be said in the other direction as we emerge from the pandemic. It will be interesting to see if our efforts in preventing the virus have helped us prevent incidents of foodborne illness, just as data suggests our efforts have made this common flu season less impactful because of our efforts to fend off COVID-19.
So, thorough and frequent hand washing, and routinely cleaning and sanitizing surfaces will continue to be key measures in fighting foodborne illness long after the pandemic is over. Stay vigilant and stay safe throughout 2021 and beyond!
Reference - Feng, Y. (2020). Keep Calm, Handle Food Safely. Retrieved from https://ucanr.edu/sites/yolonutrition/files/322093.pdf