DENVER (KDVR) — Grocery stores across Colorado are doing their part to make sure their employees are safe during this difficult time.
Already, we’ve seen at least one King Soopers employee get sickened by the coronavirus.
“The employs handling produce need to be washing their hands,” said Brian Kellerman, the Chief Food Safety Officer for Kellerman Consulting.
Kellerman Consulting is a well-respected food and safety consulting group that works with restaurants and grocery stores in states across the country - including Colorado.
They help businesses maintain the best health and safety practices when it comes to working with food.
“If [employees] feel ill they need to stay away,” Kellerman said. “Folks that are purchasing things from grocery stores need to be washing those items and if there is any doubt - they should cook those items before they eat them."
King Soopers and Safeway have already put safeguards in place for their employees, but have yet to release detailed information.
When it comes to grocery store employees using gloves to touch produce and other items right now, Kellerman referred to the practice as a 'double-edged sword.'
“Gloves often times bring about a sense of safety where there’s not,” Kellerman explained. “So people can touch parts of their body, their face, things like that. With gloves on, people think they’re safer than they are”.
As far as concerns over handling produce go, Kellerman said the following:
“If you have an orange or avocado for example, where there’s a peel on the outside, the risks are no different than touching any food contact space that could make you sick. So your kitchen counter would be no more dangerous than an avocado,” Kellerman explained. "For something like an apple, strawberry, something where you don’t peel the skin - you want to be more careful. But washing [them] should be able to take care of any threat”.
More than anything else, Kellerman said the biggest issue facing grocery stores when it comes to their employees is this:
"It can be asymptomatic for people under 60. So folks might be ill and may not know it,” Kellerman said.
His best advice for grocery store employees: make sure you’re constantly washing your hands and if you’re sick or show symptoms - stay home.