Food regulator FSSAI on Wednesday issued guidelines related to hygiene and safety that food business operators (FBOs) need to follow during the coronavirus disease outbreak. In its 14-page ‘Food Hygiene and Safety Guidelines for food businesses during coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic’, the FSSAI has suggested various measures that need to be taken by the FBOs.
“These specific measures, detailed in the document, include maintaining high levels of personal hygiene; excluding COVID-19 infected persons from the operations; practicing social distancing; and appropriate cleaning/ sanitisation of the food operations’ premises, food contact materials etc,” FSSAI said in a statement.
As per the guidelines, food business owners or employers should have a COVID 19 screening protocol in place to screen all personnel entering the premises. Those with temperature more than 99 degree Fahrenheit and/or flu like symptoms should not be allowed to enter establishments.
Large food businesses have been asked to set up a local emergency response team to handle suspected coronavirus case.
The document is primarily intended for all types of food businesses including food service, transport and retail operations.
The guidance has been developed based on the best practices currently recognized and adopted internationally.
Although there is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of COVID-19 virus, it is important to take all precautions to prevent any possibility of person to person spread of COVID-19 infection during food business operations, the statement said.
The FSSAI said that FBOs are already following various hygienic and sanitary measures as per Schedule IV of Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2011.
“Nevertheless, COVID-19 situation demands implementation of some additional focussed measures mainly to prevent human-to-human spread of the disease in food business operations and also to reduce the likelihood of contamination of various materials in contact with food such as equipment, packaging materials etc,” the statement said.
In view of this, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has developed a detailed guidance on specific measures that can be taken by various types of food businesses in addition to those specified under the FSS Act, to prevent spread of COVID-19.
“Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which is caused by a new type of coronavirus, has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). The disease is transmitted from person to person primarily through close contact with one another, and respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. In the absence of a known cure for the disease, all efforts are towards prevention of the spread of this disease from person to person,” FSSAI noted.