Managing food safety in the time of COVID-19

Updated: Sep 28

Since food manufacturing, food service, food retail, agriculture, and transportation are all classified as essential critical infrastructure, the collective food industry has a responsibility to respond.

Management Team:

  • Implement an employee health and wellness program that supports pro-active restriction and or exclusion.  

  • Have a pandemic response plan incorporated into your organization’s Business Continuity Plans which should include key aspects of service limitations, increased cleaning/sanitizing and disinfection, etc.

  • Designate roles within your organization that will connect to global, national, regional, and local regulatory authorities to monitor the situation and to deploy adequate control measures to continue operations. 

  • Identify backups for each job position and if possible alternate production sites to offset production delays.

  • Promote remote work for non-production or essential roles. Digital food safety management systems (FSMS) are a great tool to facilitate and maintain adequate processes and controls are being met even from a remote location. 

  • You can have a real-time overview of your food safety status in FoodDocs without leaving home.

  • Consider providing transportation for employees that use public transportation.

Operations Planning:

  • Incorporate the use of a daily set of health assessment questions as part of temperature monitoring  (are you sick, have you been around anyone sick, do you live with anyone that is sick) based on the CDC guidance for employee wellness.

  • Decide when to close dining rooms, restrooms, and seating areas and reassessment plans for reopening. 

  • Protect cashiers by providing physical barriers between them and customers

  • Clean and disinfect credit card pin pads and touch screens between each customer at indoor self-checkout locations.


Setup your digital check-lists in FoodDocs, frequencies and responsible teams. Because of the automatic reminders in the App nobody won´t forget about the cleaning tasks.

  • Clean and disinfect outdoor touch screens/credit card pin pads at routine intervals.

  • Eliminate self-serve items, buffets, and areas that encourage high touch surfaces and when possible package foods that are sold individually. 


Label pre-packaged food with all required food information. You can get mandatory nutrition and allergen information for the packages in FoodDocs automatically after the recipes have been created


  • Designate continuous cleaning and disinfection of high touch surfaces in the entire facility (door knobs/handles, handrails, phones, light switches, hand sinks, paper towel dispensers, restrooms, credit card pin pads, and touch screens, etc.) to one or more employees


  • Have liquid hand sanitizer stations as well as sanitizer wipe stations in operating locations so employees can sanitize hands when hand washing is not feasible 

  • Designate employees to monitor customers’ entrances to ensure that all consumers are prompted to use sanitizer prior to entering.

  • Set up que line placements (e.g., X every 6 feet) and signage to ensure customers are able to stand 6 feet apart IF a line is likely for pick-up service. 

  • Place signage encouraging anyone who feels ill to not enter and provide alternatives as to how to help them with food essentials (delivery, curbside pickup).

  • Consider transition from traditional paper and laminated menus to a digital format, when re-opening. Further, consider systems that allow the customer to use their own device to access menus.

Production Planning:

  • Review your operation’s production and operating hours, should they be shorter or different from normal operating hours. 

  • Reduce or rethink your menu to take advantage of alternate labor models or product availability. 

  • Consider simplifying your menu items to less complex products, this would support a more sustainable labor pool that may have less formal culinary training as well as reducing the amount inventory which should help control food waste during such an unpredictable event.   

  • Divide employees into small function-based teams and stagger production times or production areas to promote adequate social distancing.

Perishable Food:

  • Reduce food waste by lowering par inventory levels.

  • Identify if/what products in your inventory that can be frozen without quality compromises, and used at a future date. Think about consolidating inventory in preparation for staff reductions 

  • When closing a facility, divert safe food to local food banks or shelters – donate as much product to them as possible as long as it has not passed its expiration date.

  • To assist locations in returning to normal operations (post-pandemic) discard perishable products near the end of useful life. 

Refrigeration Recommendations:

  • Reorganize inventory and condense products into fewer refrigeration units. 

  • Empty refrigerators should be turned off, as empty refrigeration space places more stress on the cooling system that could lead to unnecessary wear and tear. This also conserves energy and allows for deep cleaning to take place as well as preventative maintenance to ensure optimal functionality once placed back into service.

Technology:

  • Adopt Digital Food Safety Management systems (DFSMS) based on HACCP guidelines that enable real-time refrigeration temperature monitoring and alert based operational compliance reporting. These systems have the ability to consolidate multiple important critical food safety reporting activities by providing visibility and awareness across an entire organization 


Did you know that FoodDocs has integration possibilities to various type of automated sensors?

  • Implement the use of infrared handheld thermometers as a pre-screening tool to measure temperatures of individual employees at the start/end of their shift. Screening methods and results should be based on CDC guidance and confirmed by a medical professional.  

  • Investigate the use of advanced thermal imaging instruments to assess elevated body temperatures and in consultation with local health professionals and legal advisors, make decisions to protect employee health.

Communication Practices:

  • Leverage technology to maintain internal communication (teleconference, video conference, and webinar). 

  • Keep handwashing and hand sanitizing and employee health top of mind for employees and family members via job aids and training 

  • Encourage customers to use order ahead options and delivery services.

  • Promote the use of cashless payment at operating locations.