Food Establishments

Message from Town Manager to Food Establishments

Information, Guidance, and Helpful Links to keep you updated on Coronavirus

Dear Food Establishments, 
First, thank you for your service.  We know that limiting your services to takeout or delivery has been incredibly difficult.  We appreciate your efforts to provide this service and your attention to doing so while simultaneously taking additional precautions to avoid health risks and minimize the spread of this virus.

Below are websites with some information, guidance, and helpful links to keep you updated on coronavirus. Please continue to check our Town website as more information becomes available https://www.plymouth-ma.gov.  For the most up to date information, continue to check the Center for Disease Control and Department of Public Health website links.
 
As a reminder, there are specific Food Code requirements that will help your establishment and employees to limit the potential spread of Coronavirus or any influenza virus.  We have also included below some recommendations that the Public Health Department would like management to discuss regularly with staff and implement these preventative or additional measures.

We anticipate that customers will call with questions and concerns, wondering precautions Food Establishments are taking at this time. It is important that all establishments and businesses show customers they are taking this seriously and using their best efforts to actively protect the health of the public and their customers.
 
As food establishments, remember that not all disinfectants may be used on food contact surfaces and as such it is important to always read the label before use.
 
As an overall reminder, in an effort to limit the spread of Coronavirus, ensure your establishment is continuously cleaning and sanitizing all surfaces and following the employee illness policy.

Employee illness policy – Refer to Chapter 2 of the Federal Food Code. It is the responsibility of the Person in Charge to ensure that the Illness Policy is followed, employees are reporting illnesses, employees are reporting illness within their household, that employees are excluded or restricted when required, and the Person in Charge notifies the Board of Health when required. If you have questions regarding ill employees please contact us at [email protected]ll.plymouth.ma.us.   If an employee is exhibiting flu like symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) or any other illness symptoms, advise them to contact their doctor. It is important that you make plans ahead of time in order to be prepared for when short staffed due to illnesses.
 
If you have any questions at all, about Coronavirus, the Food Code, ill employees, etc. please do not hesitate to ask us.  We will continue to update you with guidance from the CDC and DPH as additional information becomes available.  Finally, we are also reaching out to other communities and the Commonwealth’s Public Health Department to see if there are further best practices that we can distribute to you.  We will update you as that information is available.

1.     Follow all food safety rules required by the Merged Food Code and ServSafe standards;

2.     Continue to follow social distancing protocols.   Customers and staff must stay 6 feet away from each other;  (note - during some of the Health Director’s spot-checks over the weekend, we noticed some establishments put tape on the floor, 6’ intervals, to help with that). 

3.     Take extra measures to limit interactions with customers and between employees;

4.     Encourage customers to order in your off-peak hours so there are fewer people picking up food;

5.      Post signage of the extra steps you are taking in terms of cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing;

6.      Use prepackaged utensils if possible;

7.     Post menu items online or on a board that customers can view, rather than menus they touch, or encourage them to look at the menu options on their phones;

8.    Strongly encourage or require that orders be made and paid online to limit the handling of cash and credit cards;

9.     Upon the exchange of money, credit cards, receipts, or the like, follow proper handwashing techniques and encourage customers to do the same;

10.  Avoid the ‘sharing’ of pens and encourage customers to use their own or clean pens properly after each use

11.   If possible, provide service so that residents do not have to enter the establishment and take out can be brought to them in their vehicles;

12.  Encourage customers to discard the packaging materials and transfer them to plates when they arrive home;

13.  Continuously clean and disinfect all services, doors, handles, registers, doorknobs, all surfaces where human contact is made;

14.  Encourage customers not to share drinks or utensils;

15.  Follow protocols for changing gloves;

16.  Remind employees that if they do not feel well, they should stay home;

17.  If possible, assign ONE person as the designated order-taker and cashier;

18.  In addition, we recommend that you meet with all employees to remind them of the following:

  • Food Employee Illness Reporting Requirements
  • Employee illness reporting requirements
  • The Person in Charge is required to notify the Board of Health of specific conditions listed in Chapter 2 of the Food Code
  • Proper handwashing by all employees
  • Correct procedure – wet hands with warm running water, lather with soap and scrub between fingers, on the back of your hands and under nails. Wash for at least 20 seconds. Dry hands using a paper towel.
  • Food handlers are required to wash their hands before and after completing a task.
  • All employees in a food establishment should be reminded to wash their hands as often as possible, especially after handling menus, receipts, money, credit cards, take out containers or bags, phones, etc.
  • All employees are required to wash their hands before leaving the restroom.
  • Proper handwashing may only be completed when the hand sink is fully stocked – hot water 100-110 degrees F, soap and paper towel dispensers fully stocked as needed.

19.  Dishwashers

  • Must be at the correct temperature in order to clean and sanitizer properly.
  • High Temperature Dishwashers should have a Wash temp of 160 degrees F and a Rinse temp of 180 degrees F.
  • Establishments should be using their internal max registering thermometer to check the wash temperature.
  • Low temperature or chemical dishwashers dispense a sanitizing solution that must be checked using a test strip.

20. It is important to clean and sanitize surfaces in the kitchen frequently such as door handles, sink handles, refrigerator door handles, etc. Dampness can cause remaining viruses on surfaces to survive and multiply, avoid this by cleaning, disinfecting and drying frequently.

21.  Additional recommendations that may help your establishment, customers and employees:

  • Sign at the front door reminding customers to wash hands frequently, use hand sanitizer while in public places, reminders of how to stop the spread of germs
  • Hand wash signage in the restrooms to remind all of the proper steps to wash hands - Various signs throughout the kitchen for food employees
  • Logs in the kitchen for employees to track sanitizer concentrations and when tested
  • Dedicated employee to wipe down menus with sanitizer after use with a disinfectant
  • Check list for a designated employee to clean and disinfect various surfaces throughout the establishment at specific times and frequently during the day
  • Using disposable containers and cloths to limit the handling by customers or employees
  • Hand sanitizer available at all check out registers/ counters

The additional procedures and protocols that your establishment puts in place will help the public to better understand that food safety and public health are a high priority in your establishment.

The Town will be doing periodic inspections and is always available to answer your questions. 

Thank you,
Melissa G. Arrighi, Town Manager