According to WHO, it is unlikely that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted via food. However, precautions should be taken during the preparation and serving of food to avoid transmission from person to person or via surfaces. The following measures should be taken during the preparation and serving of food in schools:
- All chefs, food handlers, cashiers and other food personnel should practice frequent handwashing with soap.
- Chefs and servers should wear a mask when cooking and when serving food to students during mealtime. See here for guidance on types of masks and how to use them safely. Where possible, chefs and servers should also wear gloves.
- Cookware, plates, cups and cutlery should be cleaned with soap and water regularly, particularly before use. Consider procuring additional plates, cups and cutlery to prevent sharing, or ask children and young people to bring their own from home. Regularly remind children not to share the same cup or utensils for eating or drinking.
- If possible, meal times should be staggered to allow for physical distancing and to allow time for cleaning and disinfecting between shifts. Space out tables and chairs in dining areas so that they are two meters apart.
- Schools should review their menu and serve only hot meals if possible. The survival of SARS-CoV-2 at different temperatures is not thoroughly researched, however, reheating food at a temperature of 149°F (65°C) for at least 3 minutes is recommended.
- Ensure materials are available (soap, water, cloths) for cleaning/disinfecting kitchen surfaces or at points of cooking and waste bins/bags
- Disinfect the surfaces of food stores twice a day
- Keep windows open to allow air-flow when possible.
See here for further general information about disinfecting food products.
Want to know more about COVID-19 control strategies for open schools:
- What actions should schools take to reduce transmission of COVID-19?
- How can person-to-person transmission be reduced in schools?
- How can we reduce surface related transmission of COVID-19 in schools?
- How can schools ensure students and staff with COVID-19 symptoms stay at home and follow national policies on testing, contact tracing and isolating?
- How can schools share age-appropriate information on COVID-19?
Written by: Julie Watson
Last updated: 26.5.2020