"The COVID-19 pandemic has created the risk of COVID-19 exposure in food-selling establishments and pharmacies. Preventing the spread of COVID-19 at your retail food establishment is critical to protecting public health. Supermarkets and convenience stores are critical infrastructure and must be up and running for a community to stay healthy and recover.
Although food has not been identified as a likely source of COVID-19 infections, close contact with people/groups (not social distancing) leads to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. COVID-19 can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours and up to three days on hard surfaces such as plastic and stainless-steel surfaces. Food establishments are a likely point of community contact, so it is vital for you to follow requirements to prevent the spread of the virus in your food establishment. This will protect your frontline workers and your customers.
Due to the emergency conditions that exist in the State of Michigan caused by COVID-19, important safety measures need to be put in place to protect consumers and employees at grocery stores and pharmacies. If you sell food directly to consumers, here are the basic requirements for food establishments to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Customers who can medically tolerate a face covering must wear one when entering a grocery store or pharmacy.
- Grocery stores and pharmacies must allocate at least two hours per week of shopping time for vulnerable populations.
- If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, the business must notify other employees without infringing on private health information.
Food sellers must also continue doing the following:
- Require checkout employees to wear some form of covering over their nose and mouth.
- Ensure both employees and customers remain at least 6 feet apart.
- Close self-serve food stations, such as salad bars, and eliminate free samples and tasting stations.
- Adopt procedures to meet federal environmental cleaning guidelines, including continuously cleaning and disinfecting frequent touchpoints, such as point-of-sale terminals at registers, shopping carts and shopping baskets.
- Prohibit employees who are sick from reporting to work and send employees home if they display COVID-19 symptoms.
- Accommodate employees who fall within a vulnerable population by providing lower-exposure work assignments or giving them the option to take an unpaid leave of absence.
- Develop and implement a daily screening program for all staff upon or just prior to reporting to work sites.
Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting – Know the Difference!When taking preventative measures against COVID-19 in your food establishment, it’s important to understand the difference between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting. Here are some basics:
- Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. ALWAYS clean before you sanitize or disinfect to increase the effectiveness of the sanitizer or disinfectant.
- Sanitizing refers to using chemicals that reduce the number of microorganisms to a safe level. Sanitizers can be used on hard, non-porous food contact surfaces.
- Disinfecting refers to using chemicals (e.g., EPA-registered disinfectants) to kill germs on surfaces. Disinfecting destroys more bacteria and/or viruses than sanitizing. Because disinfectants are harsher than sanitizers, they are not always safe for food contact surfaces."
Click here to read the full update from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.