Published April 6, 2020
As the no. 1 source for information worldwide, Google is where your customers are likely turning to find answers to their questions about restaurant safety amid COVID-19. For restaurants, it’s important to proactively communicate to your customers about everything from your updated operating model to how you’re taking safety precautions to any changes that may affect your customers.
Here are the top questions people are Googling right now, and some vetted responses you can use to answer and reassure customers.
According to NRA, the foodservice industry follows strict local public health guidelines. To meet these guidelines, restaurants have safety protocols and best practices in place, including guidance from ServSafe.
Owners and operators should contact their state and local health departments for the latest advisories/information about coronavirus in their community. The association also has a fact sheet in English and Spanish with industry-specific information.
We recommend you share (on your website, and in your emails, social posts and apps) how you're following your country’s food safety regulations, and what extra precautions you and your staff are taking.
According to the FDA, maintaining physical distancing in the absence of effective hygiene practices may not prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Food facilities should be vigilant in their hygiene practices, including frequent and proper hand-washing and routine cleaning of all surfaces. We recommend you follow CDC and World Health Organization guidelines for workplaces.
We also recommend you communicate to customers how you’ve shifted to a curbside, takeout and/or delivery model, and how guests can expect to order and receive their food from your restaurant. Reassure them about your cleaning protocols and contactless options where you can, and include information about your food handling and packaging safety precautions.
According to the CDC, “Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.”
They also say that current evidence on other coronavirus strains shows that, while coronaviruses appear to be stable at low and freezing temperatures for a certain period of time, food hygiene and good food safety practices can prevent their transmission through food.
According to the FDA, currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal (GI) viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes the COVID-19 illness, is a virus that causes respiratory illness. Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission.
The COVID-19 Resources by State document includes information on what is required in every state, city or county as it relates to restaurants and coronavirus measures, such as closing dining rooms, required posters and additional information.
According to the FDA and CDC, there is no evidence of COVID-19 transmission through food. There is more concern over human interactions—so minimizing face-to-face contact is key. Consider implementing programs such as contactless delivery, if possible, where drivers leave the order in a designated spot, rather than exchanging directly with the customer.
You can also encourage your customers to dispose of delivery packaging and immediately wash their hands after handling it to limit risk of exposure. Reassure them by communicating your kitchen health, food packaging, food handling and safety protocols.