University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

Download PDF
Publication #FSHN20-16

COVID-19 FAQ for Food Service: General Questions and Employee Health1

Natalie Seymour, Mary Yavelak, Candice Christian, and Ben Chapman2

Updated April 21, 2020

This flyer is best viewed as a PDF. It provides guidance for food service establishments to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

IS COVID-19 TRANSMITTED THROUGH FOOD?

  • There is no report from CDC that food is a source of the virus.

  • Always practice safe food preparation practices to avoid foodborne illness as well.

CAN THE VIRUS BE CARRIED ON HAIR/BEARDS?

  • Particulate matter coming from coughs and sneezes could remain on any human surface.

  • If you feel you’ve had someone cough or sneeze near your face and hair, care should be taken to wash there.

WHAT ARE SOME BEST PRACTICES I CAN IMPLEMENT IN MY ESTABLISHMENT?

  • Consider moving self-service areas, such as condiment stations, to behind employee counters.

  • Encourage customer use of credit cards and contactless payments.

  • Cloth face coverings should be worn by employees while working. Cloth face coverings should also be encouraged for customer use, based on local guidance.

  • Limit the number of people at the store at one time or space people out to prevent groups of ten or more. Provide markers on the ground to help customers maintain six feet of physical distance.

IS THERE A PROTOCOL IN THE EVENT AN EMPLOYEE IS DIAGNOSED WITH COVID-19 OR THINKS THEY HAVE IT?

  • Each store should have policies and procedures in place for employee health and wellness.

  • You should be sure that sick employees do not report to work and you should suggest they see a doctor.

  • If you have a sick employee or guest, report it to the health department. If the health department is not responding, be persistent.

  • CDC advises that you should provide instructions to employees/guests on what to do if they develop symptoms within 14 days after their last possible exposure to the virus.

CAN WE TAKE AN EMPLOYEE’S TEMPERATURE AS THEY REPORT FOR WORK?

  • Businesses should follow CDC and FDA guidance for screening employees who have been exposed to COVID-19.

  • Pre-screen employees for symptoms or fever before starting work.

  • Employees with fever and symptoms should be advised to see a doctor for evaluation and should be deferred to Human Resources for next steps.

WHAT IF AN EMPLOYEE REFUSES TO COME TO WORK FOR FEAR OF INFECTION OR REFUSES TO SERVE A SICK PATRON? WHAT IF EMPLOYEES HAVE USED ALL THEIR SICK LEAVE?

  • Your policies, that have been clearly communicated, should address this.

  • Educating your workforce is a critical part of your responsibility.

  • Local and state regulations may address what you have to do and you should align with them.

For More Information

Visit: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov

(800) 232-4636

Footnotes

1.

This document is FSHN20-16, one of a series of the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date March 2020. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication. © NCSU. Used with permission.

2.

Natalie Seymour, MS, Extension associate; Mary Yavelak, MS, Extension associate; Candice Christian, MPH, Extension associate; and Ben Chapman, professor, food safety specialist; NC State University Extension. UF Contact: Michelle Danyluk, professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center, Lake Alfred, FL | mddanyluk@ufl.edu | (863) 956-8654.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.