Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian food businesses have had to incorporate many health and safety protocols that were different from before. This included changing business operations and safety protocols in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep the premises safe. While these best practices have become habit now, they may fall out of practice as times goes on. Here is a breakdown of the habits food businesses developed during the pandemic that should never be broken:
The habit of good hygiene
Washing hands properly
Thorough and frequent hand washing is one of the most important things a Food Handler can do to ensure safety in the workplace. This is more important now than ever, especially since hand washing is one of the key ways to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
At the beginning of the pandemic, training staff on the proper hand washing technique quickly became one of the best practices food businesses could do. As food businesses begin to welcome customers back into their premises, enforcing the proper hand washing technique must not fall out of practice. It is critically important as food businesses begin to have more close interactions with customers.
The way to properly wash hands involves using soap and warm water and washing hands for at least 20 seconds. To learn all of the steps to washing hands properly, check out the Correct Hand Washing Method Poster in the AIFS Resource Library.
Using hand sanitiser
The demand and use of hand sanitiser has grown immensely in Australia. Food businesses are supplying hand sanitiser to staff members as well as customers to help kill pathogens and stop the spread of COVID-19. This has been especially important for delivery staff and other workers who don’t have access to hand washing facilities in order to wash their hands. Food businesses are also supplying hand sanitiser for customers at food pick-up locations or throughout the premises, such as at the entrance.
As Australian food businesses continue to operate, it is essential that hand sanitiser is provided to staff and customers. For some businesses, it may be tempting to forgo the hand sanitiser to cut costs. However, hand sanitiser ensures customers have clean hands, and it also reassures customers when they see staff members using hand sanitiser.
A word of caution about hand sanitisers: Hand sanitiser could cause chemical contamination of food if it is not allowed to properly dry on hands before preparing food. For this reason, proper training on the use of hand sanitiser is essential.
The habit of better cleaning
As a condition of reopening, food businesses have had to update their cleaning and sanitising schedule to include an increased frequency as well as additional items to be cleaned and sanitised. High-touch objects such as menus, condiments, doorknobs, railings and trays are examples of objects that must not only be cleaned, but sanitised as well. This practice is essential for killing COVID-19 and preventing its spread within a food business. It is important that food businesses check with their supplier to confirm that the sanitiser being used is effective against the coronavirus.
As Australia continues to grapple with COVID-19 outbreaks, the value of the updated cleaning and sanitising schedule is clear. The coronavirus is still a threat to the health and safety of Australians, and cleaning and sanitising is an essential way that food businesses can prevent the spread. As time goes on, though, food businesses may begin to slip in their cleaning and sanitising practices and fall back into old ways. It is essential that this does not happen. While the new schedule may be time consuming, it is vital to running a healthy, safe and successful food business.
Learn more about cleaning and sanitising to prevent COVID-19 here.
The habit of using technology
As food businesses reopen their doors, many are turning to technology to ensure the premises is safe. High-end technology is helping food businesses to operate in a way that prevents the spread of COVID-19. Food businesses are using technology such as contact-free payments, digital menus, self-order stations and tablets for taking orders — all of which eliminate contact between customers and staff. This is not only a best practice in order to operate safely, but it also makes customers feel safe and keeps them coming back.
Unfortunately, using technological enhancements can be costly. As time progresses and COVID-19 cases start to decrease, it can be tempting to move back to traditional menus, taking cash payments and putting away the tablets and screens. If financially able to do so, it is important for food businesses to continue using technology to reduce contact and to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.
The habit of being adaptive
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the food industry greatly and food businesses are having to adapt in order to survive these times. Being adaptive and ‘ready for anything’ is a habit that must continue on for the time being. This is because it is still not clear how the pandemic will continue to affect Australian food businesses and Australia as a whole.
Food businesses must be prepared for the possibility of sporadic outbreaks or a second wave that could could mean more shutdowns. While this is not an ideal situation, being adaptive is the best way to stay the course through these uncertain times.