The coronavirus pandemic has public health and safety as the main priority in everyone’s mind, and in the restaurant industry in particular.
We want to get back in the kitchen cooking, open our restaurants and serving customers, we need to in order to survive financially, but there are so many questions.
- What are the guidelines for serving food at events during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- What precautions should be taken for food safety during the COVID-19 outbreak?
- Can I get COVID-19 from a food worker handling my food?
- What are the guidelines for posting COVID-19 signs and messages for restaurants?
- What are the guidelines for disinfecting food from the coronavirus disease?
- What are guidelines for visits by service providers during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A Guide to All the Restaurant Safety Guides
While restaurants have been developing new strategies to survive the pandemic, there is also a multitude of new health and safety procedures for food industry workers to digest and apply, designed to minimize risks to restaurant staff and their customers.
With the US CDC guidelines coming in at a slight four pages, independent restaurant industry groups are stepping in with their own guidance, a comprehensive guide, highlighting the basic operating rules any kitchen should follow to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
As states and communities decide they have sufficiently flattened the curve of the novel coronavirus pandemic and give the green light to reopen businesses, restaurant owners are faced with the daunting task of keeping their employees and customers safe from infection.
But when it comes to implementing safety protocols, many feel like they’re in the dark, as a result, private organizations like the National Restaurant Association, José Andrés’s, and others have stepped up to layout their own logistical advice.
The most comprehensive guide yet comes from the James Beard Foundation and the Food and Society Program at the Aspen Institute, a response to the persistent desire for a single, streamlined playbook. In the 45-page guide titled “Safety First: Serving Food and Protecting People During COVID-19” (divided into chapters downloadable as separate PDFs), food writer Corby Kummer compiled input from World Central Kitchen, frontline worker-focused initiative ,Off Their Plate , and Louisville chef – Ed Lee’s the Lee Initiative, for a collaborative effort that was powered by a grant from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. Validated extensively by infection-control specialist Sam Dooley, a 32-year veteran of the CDC, the guide simplifies competing protocols from around the industry into one authoritative text.
The guide takes an epidemiologist’s approach to operations, beginning with an overview of how the novel coronavirus spreads and how to control sources of infection, before drilling down on back of house logistics, including food prep, worker arrival procedures, receiving supplies, preparing takeout orders, proper PPE use, and maintaining ventilation and dishwashing systems.
“Our goal is to tell chefs, managers, and restaurant owners how their procedures need to change in the era of COVID-19,” Kummer explains in his introduction to the guide. “These guidelines are first and foremost about keeping workers safe.” But the industry-spanning collaborative effort may also set the tone for the new normal in foodservice. “Safety First is the start of a new social contract between everyone who works in and dines at America’s restaurants, which will be most important during the time between reopening and a wide-spread vaccine,” James Beard Foundation CEO Clare Reichenbach said in a press release.
The groups behind Safety First plan to release more front of house guidance soon. In the meantime, the National Restaurant Association and others already offer guidance on FOH logistics like food running, customer management, bathroom safety, and customer takeout. There’s also a wealth of alternative advice from architects, lawyers, consultants, and international restaurant groups.
Below you’ll find the latest guidelines from a number of prominent groups, which together provide an overview of leading thought on safely operating a restaurant right now.