How to Enhance Restaurant Kitchen Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic
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As you review and assess the current layout and procedures of your kitchen, keep in mind that every COVID-19 precaution you take to protect your employees also directly impacts your customers. Because of food safety requirements mandated by your state, your kitchen staff are probably already well trained for this situation. Our recommendations are designed to help you ensure the safety of your employees and customers.
Educate your team on health and hygiene protocols.
Be transparent. A well-informed team is a safe team. Post reminders and messages in strategic areas for team members to see.
Post signs clearly explaining your restaurant's policies for:
- Face coverings and masks
- Social distancing
- Daily symptom screening
- Sick leave policies
- Name and contact information of your company's coronavirus plan expert
- Have your team refresh the food safety training required by your state.
Frequently disinfect your kitchen, especially high-touch areas.
Preventing foodborne illness is in your restaurant's DNA. But COVID-19 is a novel virus that often requires us to take a different, more aggressive approach.
- Increase the frequency of disinfecting high-touch surfaces like oven handles and counters.
- Don't share knives or other kitchen utensils.
- Even if your culinary team uses their own knives, additional cutlery and utensils will reduce the chances of borrowing from each other in a pinch.
- Replace the practice of reusable bar rags soaked in sanitized water for surface cleaning with single-use wipes or towels and a food-safe disinfectant from the list of EPA-approved disinfectants that kill COVID-19
- Perform normal overnight cleaning as usual.
- Assess waste containers. Should they be replaced? Should you add more to be more efficient?
Promote the use of facemasks.
Kitchen staff should wear facemasks or coverings at all times, especially if physical distancing is difficult.
Shouting in restaurant kitchens is not unusual, and studies show that loud talking can increase the amount of respiratory droplets expelled from the mouth.
- In addition to requiring masks, consider adding a visual system that lets servers know when their order is ready.
Use physical distancing and barriers where possible.
Staying 6' apart is likely going to be the most challenging change to your kitchen.
- Assess, and rearrange as necessary, the flow of the kitchen to remove unnecessary cross-traffic from station to station.
- To avoid the accidental creeping into each other's stations, mark the proper 6' distance where employees should stand with floor signs or tape.
- If 6' between employees can't be established, install transparent barriers between stations.
- Freestanding barriers are easy to move and allow for flexibility within your kitchen.
Encourage frequent, thorough handwashing.
The message has been loud and clear to the public during this pandemic - wash hands or use hand sanitizer. But hand sanitizer is not an acceptable alternative in a restaurant kitchen and should only be used after hands have been properly washed and not while staff is handling food directly.
- Take this opportunity to assess the handwashing sign(s) you currently have posted.
- Consider updating or adding signs at handwashing station(s) that review proper handwashing guidelines.
Keep in mind that recommendations from your state authorities, the CDC, and OSHA continue to change as we learn more about COVID-19. Be sure to stay updated by signing up for email notifications.
Links to All U.S. States' COVID-19 webpages
OSHA Guidance on Returning to Work (PDF)
CDC Resuming Business Toolkit (PDF)
❏ Handwashing reminder signs
❏ Handwashing instructional signs
❏ Liquid hand soap
❏ Liquid hand soap dispenser
❏ Automatic hand sanitizer dispensers and refills
❏ Reminder signs to maintain social distancing and wear facemasks
❏ Sign holders
❏ Facemasks and/or face shields
❏ PPE organizers/holders
❏ Disinfecting wipes
❏ Disinfecting wipes holders
❏ Hands-free waste containers with lids
❏ Directional floor signs/decals (if implementing one-way traffic)
❏ Barrier shields/partitions
❏ Social distancing signs/decals/markers