EHA Recommendations for Decontamination of Food Service Operations

COVID-19 emphasizes the need for a strong decontamination program in food service. Due to COVID-19 concerns or in response to confirmed case(s) in the workplace, including your customers or team members, disinfection of service areas and kitchen spaces are critical. Disinfection of cafes can be performed in-house with appropriately trained staff and supervision or with an outside firm that specializes in disinfection, not just cleaning.

Below are risks and recommendations for decontamination of food service establishments and affiliated service areas.


  • Lack of clear understanding of chemicals used by the in-house team or disinfection service provider.
  • Using chemicals not approved by the EPA. Improper use of chemicals or the use of unapproved chemicals can lead to health issues and chemically contaminated surfaces. Utilization of chemicals approved by the EPA for the disinfection should be the first choice. Below is the EPA approved list link:
    • Note: If EPA approved chemicals are not available due to lack of supply, which we are aware of throughout the U.S. Detergent wash – rinse and sanitization of surfaces with Quat Sanitizer at 200-400ppm or Choline bleach solution at 100ppm will effectively clean and sanitize a surface. The sanitizer (Quat or Bleach) must saturate the surface for at least 5-10 minutes and air dry.
  • Absence of trained professionals to properly disinfect food service establishments. Due to high demand for disinfection cleaning services, companies will be employing many untrained temporary employees to meet service requests. Professionally trained staff are critical to ensure the disinfection is executed without creating additional hazards.
  • Access to personal protective equipment. Ensuring the cleaning team is properly equipped with appropriate PPE is critical. Minimum PPE includes arm length gloves, face shields and disposable aprons.

EHA has decades of experience coordinating and supervising cleaning and disinfection of food production and service spaces for clients across Cruise Ships, Hospitals, Food Processing, Retail Foodservice and Educational Institutions.


  • Design and develop Standard Operating Procedure (SOP’s) for cleaning and disinfection of food production and associated service areas.
  • Assist in assembly and training of in-house cleaning team to ensure safety and effectiveness.
  • Verify the proper use of PPE to minimize workplace safety concerns.
  • Supervise disinfection process to ensure effectiveness and the use of proper chemicals to minimize the risk of chemical contamination of surfaces.

A properly executed disinfection process is key to restoring confidence of you employees and customers. EHA is positioned and ready to rapidly respond to the current Covid-19 epidemic. Our team is ready to assist to ensure the disinfection is conducted appropriately and safely for your team member as well as your customers.

To speak to someone at EHA, call 410-484-9133 or email us at


  1. If you are sick with a cough, runny nose, shortness of breath or have difficulty breathing, fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, which is not normal for the individual, i.e. asthmatics - do not go to work.
  2. If you become sick with a cough, runny nose, shortness of breath or have difficulty breathing, fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, which is not normal for the individual, i.e. asthmatics - tell your supervisor and immediately go home and seek medical attention. If they test you and you are positive for the Coronavirus, follow the public health advice, inform your manager so they can take the necessary steps to protect your fellow employees and the public.
  3. If an employee is positive for the Coronavirus and you have worked with this employee, all of these individuals should be sent home for self-quarantine, seek medical attention as required and can return to work within 14 days as long as they have not had any symptoms or illnesses.
  4. The foodservice facility should close, have an internal or external firm deep clean the facility. For non-food contact surfaces, utilize one of the EPA-listed disinfectants listed below in this link to the EPA:

    If the specific disinfectant is not listed for food contact surfaces, then utilize your existing wash-rinse-sanitize procedures utilizing the maximum allowable amount of Quat or Chlorine per manufacturers instructions and directions. Remember, any chemical label approved by the EPA is considered to be a legal document.

    Pay scrupulous attention to the dwell time, or the time that the chemical or wipe must be on the food contact and non-food contact surfaces to be effective against the virus. To be clear, the Coronavirus is not a superbug and is very easily killed with these common disinfectants.
  5. Once this has been accomplished and employees who were not in the unit with the ill employee, the unit can reopen and operate as normal.

These are Best Practices. We have not seen any regulatory requirements, but there have been questions and various companies have opted to handle this in a variety of ways – from doing virtually nothing to closing and issuing a Press Release.

Obviously, if a specific health authority becomes involved with your unit, you must follow their recommended procedures, whether it is retail, wholesale, catering, on land or on a cruise ship.

Coronavirus – Interim Facts for Foodservice Operations

For foodservice facilities and foodservice workers:

  1. If you are sick with a cough, runny nose, shortness of breath or have difficulty breathing, fever, diarrhea, or vomiting - do not go to work.
  2. If you should sneeze or cough, please do so into your elbow or, if you cough or sneeze into a tissue make sure the tissue is disposed of and, in either case, wash your hands and put on new plastic disposable gloves.
  3. This virus is easily spread through respiratory droplets. Transmission can occur when an infected person coughs or sneezes and their droplets contact other’s mucous membranes, either directly or from an infected surface. Therefore, increase handwashing and glove utilization and reduce touching your face, especially areas of your mouth, nose and eyes, as these are portals of entry. Although eating is not a risk factor, this is not a foodborne disease. Live virus has been found in the feces of infected people, thus underscoring the importance of cleaning and sanitizing hard surfaces and washing hands thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom.
  4. In foodservice environments that have a lot of patron touch of common utensils, such as salad bars and coffee levers, etc. – these utensils should initially be swapped out several times during the meal period. Coffee levers and refillable soda/ice/water dispensers should have signage that only new glasses should be used and refilling from existing glasses should not occur to prevent saliva being transferred onto a lever. (See Guidance For Retail Food Service Managers below)
  5. If we get to a situation, either in the community or at the specific location that has a case or cases and the facility remains open, employees should be serving these food items that normally individuals would be touching with self-service.
  6. There is no question that we are trying to prevent a patron, who should be washing their hands, from coming into your cafeteria and touching a tong, spoon, ladle, etc. and then touching their face, rubbing their eyes and then eating their food. This is basic Infection Control 101.
  7. If you are a caregiver and need to be in close contact with people who are ill, utilizing an N95 mask and glasses if they are coughing, sneezing, etc., frequent handwashing and glove utilization will protect you. Healthy individuals should not be utilizing any type of mask as a preventative measure, since in reality, people tend to touch their face to adjust the mask often.
  8. The coronavirus, like some other viruses, is able to remain infectious on hard surfaces. Thus, cleaning and sanitizing these hard surfaces (especially in high touch areas) with appropriate antiviral cleaning and disinfecting agents, is critical.

Coronavirus is spread in the same way that seasonal influenza or flu and other respiratory diseases are spread. The incubation period seems to be 2 to 14 days between infection and your development of any symptoms. Your health and safety and your family’s health and safety are paramount to our ability to protect those in our foodservice facilities.

The issue of travel abroad brings up other issues, especially to China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Italy where widespread infection from person-to-person has occurred. However, as of this date, cases have been reported in 3 countries in Africa, 7 countries in the Americas, 34 countries in Europe, 15 countries in the Middle East and 14 countries in Asia; so travel to or from these countries does put you at varying degrees of risk. However, we are listed as the United States and yet the number of cases in the United States currently are 60 cases with 6 deaths and 12 states reporting illness. Twenty-two of the 60 cases are travel-related, 11 are person-to-person spread and 27 are under investigation.

Please understand that the statistics will change as will the guidance, but the simple facts of handwashing, not reporting to work when ill, covering coughs and sneezes, then immediately washing hands, and having overall increased handwashing and glove utilization is key to a safe and healthy, foodservice environment.

Guidance for Retail Food Service Managers

Complete prevention in any public environment is not possible. What is possible are enhanced measures which can assure your customers you care about their health and safety.

  • Utilization of a disinfectant for non- food contact surfaces is recommend. Many disinfectants are available and effective but may also carry user risk and toxicity concerns. Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide products are effective and are very user friendly with no PPE requirements. The chemical is also environmentally safe. This class of disinfectant usually has a contact time requirement of 1-3 minutes depending on manufacturers specifications. It is important to note disinfectants are not to be used on food contact surfaces only non-food contact surfaces.
  • Increased cleaning frequency of high hand contact surfaces with a disinfectant is recommended. These surfaces include self-order kiosk and other touch screen machines, door handles, display cases, countertops tabletops and chairs etc. Cleaning and wiping of surfaces should be increased during peak times.
  • Beverage dispensers which do not require hand contact to select soda are not high hand contact machines. Beverage dispensers which requires a spigot to be opened would be considered high hand contact.
  • When possible, self-service stations should be eliminated. When not possible service utensils tongs, ladles etc. should be replaced frequently new cleaned and sanitized utensils.
  • Increased use of grab and go items will allow you costumers to quickly enter and exit crowded areas.
  • Encouragement of hand washing is key. When not possible readily available hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is a secondary option.
  • Refresher training on employee health reporting requirement is recommended with a highlight on “flu like “symptoms. Temporary employees should be screen closely with a completed health questionnaire covering the symptoms of respiratory illness.