Each year, flu costs the U.S. economy $87 billion dollars in lost productivity and medical costs.
One of the industries hit hardest is foodservice. In fact, people who work in foodservice account for one tenth of all flu-related hospitalizations each year.3
A flu outbreak at your operation can leave you short-staffed, resulting in longer wait times, poor guest experience,4 and burnout amongst your remaining staff. This time of year, it’s especially important to prepare for cold and flu season by implementing measures to reduce the spread of infection.
There are several steps staff and management can take to help keep your foodservice environment healthy:
- Remind and train staff to:
- Practice hand hygiene
- Disinfect high-touch surfaces frequently
- Encourage vaccinations among employees
- Offer paid sick leave so employees don’t return until fever-free for 24 hours5
Your fight against the spread of cold and flu has three fronts: Hands, Surfaces, and Staff:
- Proper hand hygiene, already the cornerstone of food safety, is doubly important during cold and flu season. Washing hands frequently is essential. The CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer6 if soap and water are not available, or as an added layer of protection following hand washing.
- Cold and flu spread rapidly as germs are easily cross-transmitted from surfaces to hands and from hands to surfaces. Because these viruses can survive on surfaces for extended periods of time, staff should disinfect high-touch, nonfood contact surfaces frequently throughout their shifts. These include door handles, handrails, light switches, even the pens customers use to sign for their checks.7
- Because of the nature of food preparation, sick employees can easily lead to sick customers. Yet 51% of food workers surveyed said that, even when sick, they always went to work.8 Encouraging staff to get a flu vaccination and requiring sick workers to stay home can also help to limit the spread of cold and flu among staff and, by extension, guests.9