By: Adam Friedlander, MS, Manager, Food Safety and Technical Services, FMI

Grocery CartsDuring these extraordinary times, grocery stores must maintain a clean and sanitary facility to ensure the health and well-being of all customers and employees. Along with important community mitigation strategies, cleaning and sanitation procedures for frequently touched human surfaces can help protect customers and employees from COVID-19. 

While some grocers are limiting store hours to thoroughly clean and disinfect their entire store before opening the follow morning (i.e. deep clean), most grocers are more aggressively cleaning and sanitizing high-touch surfaces throughout the day to reduce the risk of transmission.  

Coronavirus is spread mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets and is not known to be transmitted through food or food packaging. However, it may be possible for a person to contract COVID-19 by touching common high-touch surfaces that are contaminated with the virus and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes. Examples of these high-touch surfaces include stainless steel surfaces in check-out areas, shopping cart handles, touch screens, sneeze guards or door handles. Due to the virus’ ability to survive on surfaces for hours to potentially days, CDC recommends that food retailers continue to use cleaners and disinfectants according to label instructions for sanitation activities, and leverage EPA-registered cleaning and disinfecting products that are already on the market.

To empower front-line sanitation heroes at the grocery store, FMI developed a guide for “COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfection for Human-Touch Surfaces.”

This guide:
  1. Identifies a number of human-touch surfaces within stores and during food delivery to focus employee cleaning and disinfecting efforts. 
  2. Addresses approved disinfectants for retail use (EPA List N).
  3. Advises how to properly use disinfectants and cleaning agents (Hint: Do not mix household bleach with ammonia).
  4. Contains a model sanitation standard operating procedure (SSOP) for employees to follow when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces (Step 1: Wash your hands).

As the food industry continues to provide essential services and items to communities across the nation, FMI members will continue to emphasize the importance of worker and customer safety. Mastering cleaning and sanitizing protocols, enhancing handwashing practices and honoring social distancing guidelines can help keep families—and the world—safe.  

Download the Cleaning & Disinfection for Human Touch Surfaces Guide