FSSAI prescribes safety and hygiene norms for the FBOs during COVID-19 pandemic

The Food Safety Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) vide a press note dated 15th April 2020 issued guidelines related to hygiene and safety that food business operators (FBOs) need to follow mandatorily during the coronavirus disease outbreak to ensure  safe, clean and wholesome food which is indispensable to the health and welfare of consumers. Under the present circumstances, due to COVID-19 pandemic, there is urgent requirement for food industry to ensure compliance with these measures to protect food handlers from contracting COVID-19 and to prevent transmission of this virus.  Thus, now, FBOs are required to follow the hygiene and sanitary measures mentioned in Scedule IV of the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Business) Regulations 2011 as well as FSSAI Food Hygiene and Safety Guidelines for Food Businesses during Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic.  Some of the important guidelines as per new FSSAI Food Hygiene and Safety Guidelines for Food Businesses during Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic that are to be followed by FBOs are –

  1. It is mandatory for all FBOs to implement Good Food hygiene Practice and Good Manufacturing Processes as mentioned in Schedule IV of Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2011.
  2. FBOs shall take three major steps to prevent spread of COVID-19: High level of personal hygiene; Practice social distancing at all times and Cleaning and sanitation.
  3. Food handlers/workers shall made aware of COVID-19 symptom so that they can identify symptoms early and minimize the risk of infection to other workers.
  4. Employers should have a COVID-19 screening protocol (such as temperature screening) to screen all personnel and workers entering into the premises.
  5. Employee/visitor shall be encouraged to self-declare about any symptom of respiratory illness before or during work/visit.
  6. Employers should be aware of the worker concerns like salary, leave, health, safety etc.
  7. List of local Authorised hospitals for COVID-19 for testing and treatment shall be frequently updated.
  8. Adequate disinfect, masks, gloves, protection kits for emergency shall be made available.
  9. Record keeping shall include attendance and health status of employee/visitors.
  10.  Proper hand hygiene protocols should be strictly followed. Workers should thoroughly wash and sanitize hands before entering food premises.
  11. In production area, employees should wear masks, and clean protective clothing like full sleeve clothes, head gears, caps, gloves etc. In case of shortage of face masks, they may use cloth-based face cover or face mask.
  12. Gloves to be worn while handling prepared food or ready to eat food.
  13. Use of fingerprint or biometric attendance to be discontinued to reduce cross infection through common contact point.
  14. Food premises, counters, toilets etc should be cleaned with hot water and detergent.
  15. To ensure social distance, reduce the numbers of people on production floor or kitchen. There should be 1-meter gap between food handlers.
  16. Limit the number of people (staff/customer/delivery boy) who can come into food premises at one time.
  17. For food delivery, prefer leaving food packages outside the door. Takeaway and food delivery should be encouraged rather than dine-in.

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