COVID-19 & FOOD SAFETY: AN EMPIRICAL ASSESSMENT OF DISEASE TRANSMISSION VIA TRANSPORTATION By Dr. Fagbemi S.A.

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This short commentary aims to enlighten the general public particularly groups or individuals involved in the food value chain. The purpose of this guideline is to highlight additional measures so that the integrity of the food chain is maintained, and that adequate and safe food supplies are available for consumers especially during this period that the COVID-19 pandemic keeps spreading like wildfire across several territories.

The primary focus of any additional hygiene and sanitation measures implemented by food businesses is on keeping the COVID-19 virus out of their businesses. The virus will enter business premises only when an infected person enters or contaminated products or items are brought into the premises.

Drivers and other staff delivering to food premises should not leave their vehicles during delivery. Drivers should be supplied with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, a disinfectant, and paper towels.

Drivers should use a hand sanitizer before passing delivery documents to food premises staff. Disposable containers and packaging should be used to avoid the need for cleaning of any returns. In the case of reusable containers, appropriate hygiene and sanitation protocols should be implemented.

Drivers delivering to food premises should be aware of the potential risks involved in contact transmission of COVID-19. The virus can be picked up if drivers touch a contaminated surface or shake hands with an infected person with contaminated hands.

Surfaces most likely contaminated with the virus include frequently touched surfaces such as steering wheels, door handles, mobile devices, etc. This is why hand hygiene, in conjunction with physical distancing, is of paramount importance and why contact surface sanitation is critical to avoid cross-contamination.

Drivers need to be aware of physical distancing when picking up deliveries and passing deliveries to customers and of the need to maintain a high degree of personal cleanliness and to wear clean protective clothing.

Drivers also need to be aware of the need to ensure that all transport containers are kept clean and frequently disinfected, foods must be protected from contamination, and must be separated from other goods that may cause contamination.

Dr. Fagbemi S.A is the National Secretary of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST), The Executive Chairman, Oyo State Road Transport Management Authority (OYRTMA), Office of the Executive Governor of Oyo State and a Public Affairs analyst and commentator.

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