20th February 2020

Cater Care advice for Food Businesses regarding Coronavirus (2019 – nCoV)

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Cater Care advice for Food Businesses regarding Coronavirus (2019 – nCoV)

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually cause respiratory illness. The novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. The 2019 Coronavirus is referred to as a novel coronavirus (2019 – nCoV).

It is believed that novel coronavirus has been transmitted to humans from animals, similar to avian influenza.

Signs of infection include high fever (>38ºC) as well as respiratory symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. 

Due to the transmission methods recorded thus far, and the relatively low environmental stability of coronaviruses, it is unlikely that imported goods such as imported foods or consumer goods may be sources of an infection with the new type of coronavirus.

Control measures for coronavirus are similar to good food hygiene practices.

Everyone should practice good hygiene and take other measures to protect against infections.

The World Health Organization (WHO) advises people to:

  • wash hands regularly,
  • cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing,
  • thoroughly cook meat and eggs,
  • avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing.

As an added precaution, if you have suspected symptoms of respiratory illness you should avoid preparing food for other people and seek medical attention.

Employers have an important role to play in preventing illness. They should:

  • ensure that staff are aware of the 2019 – nCoV situation,
  • ensure that staff are trained appropriately in food hygiene,
  • ensure effective supervision of staff in order to reinforce hygienic practices,
  • provide the correct facilities e.g. hand washing, toilets, to enable staff to practice good hygiene,
  • ensure staff and contractors report any physical signs/symptoms, before commencing work or while in the workplace,
  • keep vigilant and ensure that staff are not ill and are fit to work.

All food workers should adhere to the following good hygiene practices:

Wash your hands frequently:

Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water. Alcohol based hand sanitizers will supplement hand washing also, particularly for staff that do not have easy and frequent access to hand washing facilities.

Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub eliminates the virus if it is on your hands. 

Practice respiratory hygiene:

When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and wash your hands with soap and warm water and/or apply alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Why? Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing prevents the spread of germs and viruses. If you sneeze or cough into your hands, you may contaminate surfaces or objects that you touch.

Maintain social distancing:

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever.

Why? When someone who is infected with a respiratory disease, like 2019-nCoV, coughs or sneezes they project small droplets containing the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the virus.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth:

Why? Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from that surface to yourself. 

 If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice early:

Inform your GP if you have travelled to an area in China where 2019-nCoV has been reported, or if you have been in close contact with someone who has travelled from China and has respiratory symptoms.

Why? Whenever you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing it’s important to seek medical attention promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Respiratory symptoms with fever can have a range of causes, and depending on your personal travel history and circumstances, 2019-nCoV could be one of them.

If you have mild respiratory symptoms and no travel history to or within China:

If you have mild respiratory symptoms and no travel history to or within China, carefully practice basic respiratory and hand hygiene and stay home until you are recovered, if possible. Also notify your supervisor.

Clean hand contact surfaces throughout the day:

Hand contact surfaces include: Door handles, stairs hand rails, lift call buttons, fridge door handles, bar taps, computer/till buttons, backs of chairs, soap dispensers, door locks, etc.

Why: Cleaning hand contact surfaces several times throughout the day with a suitable sanitiser will eliminate the transfer of viruses (and bacteria) from hand contact surfaces to people via hands.

Further information is available from Health Service Executive (hse.ie)

World Health Organisation (WHO.com)


If your organisation requires up to date Food Hygiene Training to include basic hygiene instructions for staff, please do not hesitate to contact

Cater Care on: 061 469008 or info@catercare.ie

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