Almost one month after President Trump announced a coronavirus national emergency, and three weeks before he wants to reopen many countriesThe Food and Drug Administration has announced a complete list best practice to protect workers and consumers in important businesses that feed Americans during a pandemic when everyone should keep their distance.
Many guidelines confirm existing practices or are considered a routine part of the food business – socially excluded, not touching the face, standard food safety procedures – but they also emphasize what companies must do to protect employees and maintain a safe workplace. during the ongoing outbreak. The FDA advises employers to assess workers’ health before they start work, including temperature checks. Employees must wear masks, keep a distance of six feet from coworkers and assess their own health throughout the day.
If an employee is sick at work, the FDA recommends a protocol to try to prevent the spread of the virus and avoid what happens at the Smithfield Foods processing plant in South Dakota, which closed this week after 80 employees are confirmed to have coronavirus. Agency protocols include cleaning and disinfecting the work stations of infected employees; recognize that all employees within six feet of an infected worker may have been exposed; and notifying fellow employees of their possible exposure while maintaining confidentiality. In particular, FDA guidelines include contract workers, who are not considered formal employees, such as driver for food delivery companies.
The agency recommends that employees wear gloves and masks at all times, while asking employers to stop “salad bars, buffets and beverage service stations that require customers to use public equipment or dispensers.” The FDA also encourages retail stores to find ways to keep a distance of six feet among customers on the checkout lane or while waiting for service.
However, because FDA authorities are limited to food safety, agencies cannot ask restaurants, retail stores, and other stores to limit the number of customers who enter their companies. This requirement must originate from local jurisdiction. This week, the D.C. government mandated that supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, dining rooms, and other companies limit the number of customers to maintain a distance of six feet between people. Montgomery County in Maryland issued a similar order, and other jurisdictions, such as the city of Miami, has mandated that buyers wear face masks, such as grocery chains reporting the death of their first employee related to coronavirus.
An FDA spokesman said the agency’s new guidelines were not a response to Senator Edward J. Markey’s letter (D-Mass.) sent this week. “We will respond directly to the Senator,” the spokesman, Peter Cassell, wrote in an email.
The senator’s Tuesday letter the head of the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called on agencies “to issue and promote clear guidelines for workers in the retail food industry and their customers.” CDC also updates safety guidelines this week. The Senator said he was moved to act after interacting with a supermarket worker who “may be more exposed than almost anyone outside our medical community with hundreds of people every day, one of whom can have the corona virus.”
However, the latest FDA guidelines are not a mandate, which is preferred by Markey. They still submit safety decisions to individual businesses.
“The new guidelines that have passed are an improvement from the minimal information provided by the FDA and the previous CDC, but the Trump administration must do more to promote these resources for employers, employees and consumers, and must ensure that businesses implement the protection of these workers,” Markey wrote. in a statement.
“Our frontline workers in the grocery store and in the retail food industry allow families and businesses to survive this pandemic, and we owe them to provide the resources they need to protect their lives and public health.”
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