Food Standards Scotland's guidance is aimed to assist the food and drink sector in following government guidance on infection prevention and control measures against COVID-19
The updated guidance (4 August) includes feedback from the food industry and the latest advice from Scottish and UK Government and Health Protection Scotland. It aims to provide further clarification on the application of physical distancing requirements, cleaning and disinfection procedures and how government advice on facemasks and face coverings applies to food businesses.
To accompany the guidance, FSS have developed a risk assessment tool which will help food businesses plan to re-start as lockdown restrictions are relaxed. It will also assist those which are already operating to review the steps they have taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 whilst ensuring food safety. The tool provides a way of allowing all food business operators (FBOs) to document the measures they have taken, and demonstrate that these are being maintained on an on-going basis to ensure their staff and customers are protected from the risks of COVID-19. A checklist is also available to support the risk assessment which summarises the key areas that need to be assessed when restarting your business, and will help managers to communicate with staff on the measures that need to be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In addition to these documents, FSS have also developed a practical guide aimed at addressing the specific challenges faced by small businesses in the take-away sector in preventing the spread of COVID-19. This includes model notices that can be used to communicate to customers the social distancing requirements at their premises.
The Health and Safety Executive in an open letter has outlined that some workers will have to wear less effective masks, because of shortages of availability due to the coronavirus outbreak. Manufacturers who use fine powder ingredients, including seasonings, flavourings, stabilisers, cocoa and flour, as well as powdered household products, issue staff with face masks as part of their standard health and safety policies. For example, in bakeries, breathing in flour dust can be a significant risk as it can cause occupational asthma.
The Health and Safety Executive also note that suitable control can often be achieved using good working practices and local exhaust ventilation (engineering controls) which then means that employees do not need to wear dust masks; reducing overall pressure on the supply chain. Read the full letter.
To support food and drink manufactures in protecting their workforce from Covid-19, Scotland Food & Drink has pulled together best practice tips being used by members of the food and drink business community.
This is not official guidance. This might not be relevant to all businesses but we hope that by building a community of practice it provides some support to businesses during this trying time. We will continue to develop and expand these tips as we learn more.
Some food and drink businesses have found it helpful to issue a briefing to employees, detailing the measures being taken to maintain social distancing and provide regular updates on company guidance. Click here for an example sent to us from a member.