With flu season in full swing, it’s important that certified food managers recognize the symptoms in themselves and their staff, as well as make tough decisions as to whether they should be at work with or without symptoms. Influenza can easily be spread to guests and co-workers even after symptoms have passed.
Taking Precautions Against Influenza
While monitoring the CDC’s flu data, we note that this illness is something that affects the entire country and currently poses an elevated risk. This means that the possibility exists that your establishment will have staff that misses time due to the flu.
The flu has the potential to be more than an annoyance, it has the potential to be deadly, especially in the food service industry where it can be spread to those that are susceptible. If you or a member of your staff even suspects they are infected, we strongly urge that you do not work.
One dilemma that arises is the timetable for returning to work after the flu. In some cases, a worker infected with the flu may still be contagious once symptoms begin to dissipate. Taking a day or two off after symptoms disappear may be advisable. Just because symptoms have lessened or that you feel as if you could make it through your shift does not mean you are ready to return to work. To put it simply, we feel that certified food managers and food service workers should take extra time before returning to work, even if they feel well enough to perform their duties.
The certified food manager should take steps to stay healthy during this season and recover fully if they become ill. We’d recommend visiting your physician if you are concerned about your health and not returning to work until they confirm you are no longer contagious.
If you are not ill, remember to wash your hands frequently, even when not at work. While it’s common food safety procedure to wash your hands frequently, it will also prevent illnesses like the flu from spreading outside of the kitchen environment. Keeping hydrated is also key. Kitchens are hot and restaurant workers often risk dehydration. Drinking plenty of water will help keep illness at bay.
Does your facility have any precautions to prevent illnesses like the flu from spreading to your guests?