COVID-19: Advice for Food Businesses

Safe Food Production Queensland (Safe Food) is working with other Queensland agencies to provide a whole of government approach to managing and assisting with the impacts of novel coronavirus COVID-19.

The Queensland government continues to monitor this evolving situation very closely. Your first port of call for accurate, up to date information on COVID-19 is Queensland Health – www.health.qld.gov.au/coronavirus.

Safe Food is continuing to undertake its regulatory activities. However, as a precautionary measure, we have reviewed our Business Continuity Plan to ensure our agency can remain operational should the COVID-19 situation change. We encourage all accredited food businesses to do the same. Now is the time to prepare and consider what contingencies can be put in place to minimise the impact of COVID-19 in your business.

We encourage you to consider the following:

CLEANING & SANITATION
  • The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is through good personal hygiene practices. All staff should be adequately trained in personal hygiene and how to wash their hands properly. It is recommended that reminders and refresher training be undertaken. A poster is available to display at handwashing stations in your business.
  • Provide hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes and tissues for staff and encourage regular use of these items.
  • Continue to maintain good cleaning and sanitation practices throughout your business. Ensure common contact surfaces and shared amenities, such as door handles, fridge handles, taps, elevator buttons, break rooms, toilets, etc. are cleaned thoroughly and regularly.
BUSINESS OPERATIONS
  • What will be your response plan if COVID-19 is associated with your business?
  • How will production in your business be impacted in the event of a reduced workforce? Do you need to cross-train your staff to be able to perform other duties?
  • Will COVID-19 impact the supply of inputs, ingredients, packaging, chemicals or PPE in your business? Can you source these from a local or alternative supplier if needed?
  • Do you have a contingency plan in place should a supplier of essential services be impacted by COVID-19 (e.g. your payroll provider, contract cleaners, transport companies, equipment spare parts, etc.)?

If you are an accredited business with Safe Food and encounter any issues with staff or access to essential services to run your business, please contact us as we may be able to determine who can assist you or provide advice. 

LABOUR
  • What process do you currently have around staff movements and travel? Anyone who has recently returned to Australia from overseas travel is required to self-quarantine for 14 days. It’s also important that staff understand what self-quarantine means and follow the guidance of Queensland Health. More information is available here.
  • Are you monitoring absenteeism of staff for flu-like symptoms? Do your staff know the symptoms of COVID-19Encourage staff with COVID-19 symptoms to self-quarantine and contact a medical facility to get tested.
  • How will you support staff who test positive for COVID-19 and need to self-quarantine or care for sick family members? A review of your sick leave, carers leave and annual leave policies may be required. You should also consider implementing a return to work policy for staff who may return after an infectious illness. Businesses should request a medical clearance for staff returning to work for any contagious illness.
  • If you employ transient workers on short-term visas, have you got a workforce plan in place if further restrictions are placed on inbound travel to Australia?
  • Consider organising flu shots for staff to prevent further illness this upcoming flu season.
Being prepared and proactive now can help minimise the impact of COVID-19 in your business.