Food Safety and Standards Authority of India on Wednesday issued guidelines related to hygiene and safety that food business operators (FBOs) need to follow during the coronavirus disease outbreak. In its 14-page 'Food Hygiene and Safety Guidelines for food businesses during coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic', the FSSAI has suggested various measures that need to be taken by the FBOs.
“Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which is caused by a new type of coronavirus, has been declared a pandemic by World Health Organization (WHO). The disease is transmitted from person to person primarily through close contact with one another, and respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. In the absence of a known cure for the disease, all efforts are towards prevention of the spread of this disease from person to person,” shared the statement.
Although, there is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of COVID-19 virus, it is important to take all precautions to prevent any possibility of person to person spread of C0VID-19 infection during food business operations.
As a routine, various hygienic and sanitary measures mandatorily to be followed by food business operators are specified in Schedule IV of Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2011. These measures are primarily aimed at ensuring safe, clean and wholesome food which is indispensable to the health and welfare of consumers. Nevertheless, COVID-19 situation demands implementation of some additional focussed measures mainly to prevent human-to human spread of the disease in food business operations and also to reduce the likelihood of contamination of various materials in contact with food such as equipment, packaging materials etc.
The guideline also mentioned, buffet system, food service and mass gathering should be disallowed during Covid-19 pandemic; such services should be resumed only under directions from the concerned statutory authorities.
In view of the above, FSSAI has developed a detailed guidance on specific measures that can be taken by various types of food businesses in addition to those specified in the Schedule IV of Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations 2011, to prevent spread of COVID-19 during such food business operations. These specific measures, detailed in the document, include maintaining high levels of personal hygiene; excluding COVID-19 infected persons from the operations; practicing social distancing; and appropriate cleaning/sanitization of the food operations’ premises, food contact materials etc. The document is primarily intended for all types of food businesses including food service, transport and retail operations.
The guideline also mentioned that in case of delivery, customers should be encouraged for contactless delivery.
The guidance has been developed based on the best practices currently recognized and adopted internationally.