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Advice and recommendations for the food industry during the COVID-19 crisis

Advice and recommendations for the food industry during the COVID-19 crisis

2020/23/03 - The training of personnel and the supervision of the correct maintenance of food hygiene practices -among which stand out those related to hand washing, as well as the correct use of work clothes to avoid contamination- are some of AINIA's recommendations regarding the COVID-19 crisis. We detail the rest below.

The head of food security at AINIA, Roberto Ortuño, has considered that “our food industry has the means and systems necessary to face this global crisis, especially from the point of view of food security. However, it is advisable to exercise extreme caution”.

According to the technological center, hygiene practices are already in place in industries, but it is time to insist especially on them and check that there are no deviations. The most important in the current situation are:

  1. Ensure that personnel are adequately trained in food hygiene.
  2. Ensure effective supervision of staff to reinforce hygiene practices.
  3. Provide the correct facilities, for example, hand washing, toilets…; so that staff can practice good hygiene.
  4. Make sure staff do not have any physical signs or symptoms before starting work or while they are on the job site.

In addition to these good practices, special attention should be paid at a time of high demand and sometimes with a reduction in human teams to:

  1. Any person with symptoms of coronavirus infection (fever and general discomfort, dry cough or feeling of shortness of breath) should report their illness or symptoms to the person in charge of the establishment to assess their possible temporary exclusion from direct food handling. . Also anyone who suffers or has suffered acutely from a foodborne illness or has skin infections or diarrhea that may contaminate food.
  2. Those persons about whom the manager of the establishment knows or has reasonable indications that they have symptoms of contagion should be excluded from working in food handling areas.
  3. Wash your hands properly at the beginning of the working day or when you return to your post after an absence and especially:
    - Before starting work.
    - After having used the toilet.
    - After handling raw food and before handling ready-to-eat food.
    - After coughing, sneezing, touching our mouth, nose, smoking or eating.
    - After handling dirty cardboard, packaging, or having handled waste, garbage, etc.
    - After having touched objects such as money, telephones, cash registers, etc.
    - After eating, drinking, or smoking.
    - After cleaning tasks.
  4. In case of using gloves, they will be in adequate hygiene and cleaning conditions, not exempting the handler from washing the gloves of the hands as many times as necessary or from replacing them. Remember that the latex glove is not suitable for food practice because of the risk of causing allergic reactions in consumers.
  5. Work clothes will be kept in separate lockers or in separate compartments for street clothes. You will not come with work clothes from home and you will not go outside with it.
  6. Handlers must not smoke, chew gum, eat at the workplace, sneeze or cough over food, or engage in any other activity that may cause food contamination.
  7. Do not allow access to the facilities to those outside the company who do not wear the appropriate clothing (use of a gown, shoe protectors, head covers, etc.)
  8. Special attention will be given in the case of carrying out small works, repairs and maintenance operations of equipment and utensils, in avoiding any contamination or contribution of foreign elements to the products. If the problem area cannot be completely isolated, any manipulation and elaboration work next to it will be avoided. The subsequent cleaning of these areas will also be as scrupulous as possible.
  9. You should not go outside (to the street, to the bar, etc.) or to areas close to the premises (steps, etc.) with your work clothes. The uniform is exclusive to the workplace and the manipulator must be changed on site.

Possible changes in product formulations
AINIA has explained that it could be the case that forced by the lack in the supply of some ingredient, it would be necessary to replace it with another one or simply to do without it. In this case, the food safety risk of the “new product” should be evaluated and the necessary controls modified if required.

According to the technological center, it must be taken into account that the modification of the formulation or the packaging system could influence the shelf life of the product, as well as that new risks of any kind (biological, physical, chemical, including new allergens) could appear. in the product).


Extreme analytical controls
At a time like the present, according to AINIA, the analytical controls that are routinely carried out, both with its own and external means, acquire great importance and we should not let difficulties of any kind (logistics, for example) reduce the control pressure. In this sense, I even recommend reinforcing these controls or advancing periodic plans that are planned to be made in the coming months.

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