To protect the health of workers and customers, food manufacturers in the United States are strict about sanitation every day. But the COVID-19 pandemic has made the issue even more critical as our country works to contain this crisis, and food manufacturers in America are demonstrating how effective workplaces can adjust during emergencies.
New Jersey-based Premio Foods is a maker of specialty Italian sausage products with about 1,000 employees. In addition to continuing its regular rigorous sanitation practices, the manufacturer has stepped up its efforts to sanitize operations and maintain hygienic conditions by increasing the use of protective clothing and ensuring maximum face coverage.
“We’ve stepped up expectations about changing out protective clothing and gloves, so that people cycle through them more quickly,” said Premio Foods Senior Vice President of Operations Eric Fidoten, who is also a member of the Board of Governors of the National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturing Leadership Council. “We have our employees sanitize their hands, then sanitize the glove itself—and do all this more frequently than usual. We instructed people to cover their entire head except eyes and forehead. Where we don’t mandate safety glasses, we now encourage our associates to use them.”
The company has held meetings to demonstrate proper procedures and conducted “audits” throughout the day to check that employees are thoroughly protected. It has also instituted rotating breaks and lunches to reduce large gatherings at its facilities and is ensuring high-use surfaces in breakrooms and lunch areas are frequently sanitized.
“Manufacturers across the country are committed to the highest standards of safety and sanitation,” said David R. Brousell, Vice President and Executive Director of the NAM’s Manufacturing Leadership Council. “Businesses like Premio Foods are a great example of the way manufacturers lead during times of need, implementing critical measures to keep workers and communities safe and healthy. As we grapple with this global health challenge, that example is more important than ever.”
In addition to leading by example, Premio Foods has recommended that other businesses and organizations work to step up their responses as well. They can do so by taking steps such as contacting a sanitation consulting company for a tailored sanitation plan, restricting vendors and other visitors from entering the facility and offering a brief how-to on sanitation procedures to any necessary visitors.
Of course, the standard measures are the most important—and achievable by anyone: wash your hands frequently, eliminate physical contact at work and observe social distancing, sanitize frequently-used surfaces and rooms and ensure that anyone who shows signs of illness stays home.
For more information, including best practices, CDC resources and more, go to nam.org/coronavirus.