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Food Safety Focus (167th Issue, June 2020) – Food Incident Highlight

Extra Attention on Hygiene Required in Buffet Setting during COVID-19

A recent online video on an experiment using an invisible dye as a simulant of contaminations after coughing gains worldwide attention. It demonstrated how easily germs and viruses in respiratory droplets can spread to utensils and plates and to hands and faces indirectly through shared-use utensils in a buffet setting with hygiene measures loosely practised.

Shared-use utensils and food-holding equipment are high-touch areas in buffets as they are frequented by different patrons and staff. In reducing the chance for cross-contamination, shared-use utensils and other high-touch areas should be either replaced or disinfected frequently. In Chinese table settings where dishes are shared, each diner should ideally be provided with one separate set of cutleries for taking shared food and another set for eating. 

Restaurants should practise physical distancing and enhancement of hygiene in food business. They can facilitate frequent hand cleaning by providing sanitisers at convenient locations. Patrons should also maintain good personal hygiene and clean or sanitise their hands frequently.