The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel SARS-COV-2 virus is unprecedented. Even with the mandated social distancing for the weeks or months to come, the United States still requires an enormous class of workers to keep essential services running, including the food industry. Employees need to take the proper precautions to keep others and themselves safe. Here are some tips to ensure your workforce stays safe.
Proper Hand Cleaning and Sanitizing
Suitable hand soap is essential. Food processors should make sure that all hand soap within their facility is fragrance-free and meets the needs of their food safety plan. Where appropriate, soap containing an antimicrobial ingredient like Chlorhexidine Gluconate (CHG) and quaternary ammonium compounds, which can kill bacteria, can be used.
Birko offers a robust line of hand soap solutions, including:
- Big Red
- Little Red
- Alpet E2 Foam Soap
Soap and water are more effective than alcohol-based hand sanitizers because the proteins and fats in food tend to reduce alcohol’s germ-killing power. If there aren’t opportunities to use soap and water, it’s essential to use a sanitizer with 60 percent or more alcohol.
Birko formulated two new hand sanitizers – San-It-E and Birko San III – to combat germs and viruses. San-it-E is an FDA-compliant hand sanitizer made from ethanol. It meets CDC and WHO guidelines for efficacy against Novel SARS-COV-2 virus and is USDA E3 compliant. Birko San III is a USDA hand sanitizing rinse made from ethanol with emollients to prevent dry skin.
Protection for Production Areas
Food or food packaging has not been implicated as a transmission vector, but customers must maintain or improve existing sanitation practices. A safe, reliable food supply is just as crucial to the health and well-being of the population as medical supplies.
Birko’s quaternary ammonium sanitizers, Quadra-Quat and Ultra-Quat, are included on EPA list N as being effective against the COVID-19 virus. Additionally, Birko can supply Sterilex Ultra Disinfectant Cleaner and Decon7 products. Read the full list EPA list for more information: https://bit.ly/2w9fP1r
Birko also offers equipment to ensure food processing environments are properly sanitized, including:
- Fogging Units (with quat-based solutions)
- Birko Mobile Mister
- Boot Scrubbing Units
- Entryway Sanitation Units
- Birko by Lagafors Cleaning Systems
- Birko Antimicrobial Spray Conveyor
Beyond Production Areas
While it’s crucial to keep production areas clean and sanitized, it’s also essential to cover the non-production areas like locker rooms, break rooms, and time tracking stations. Birko offers a full line of solutions to make sure employees are protected in all areas of your facility.
- Birko AF Products are mild quat-based cleaners.
- GC-161 and POW-R-SCRUB both work well as spray and wipe cleaners.
- Neutra Foam, Neutra Sol, Liquik 2 Nu Blu, and Liquik 5 are appropriate for cleaning in these areas.
- Ultra-Quat, Quadra-Quat, and 10-Chlor have glove dip approval in animal areas and packing and storage areas. In facilities where production employees wear gloves, these products could help conserve alcohol-based sanitizers.
- 10-Chlor and Ultra Bleach are suitable for Janitorial applications.
What to do if the Virus is Confirmed in Your Facility
If the virus is confirmed present at your facility, the Department of Health suggests shutting down for 72 hours for deep cleaning, using products known to be effective against the virus. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates sanitizers and disinfectants, has issued a list of antimicrobial products that it expects to be effective against the virus under the Emerging Pathogen Guidance for Antimicrobial Pesticides Program. If you have an employee who has tested positive, consider who that person might have been in close contact with, ask those people to stay home and call, don’t visit, their health care provider.
Follow Guidelines and Reduce the Risk
Flattening the curve is the goal. The short-term disruption that comes with these measures is a small price to pay for dealing with the spread of COVID-19, as described in Food Safety Strategies by Dr. Elis Owens. Doing our part means we’re helping our businesses and those we work with stay safe.