Guidance for Food Establishments

Published On: March 27, 2020

Guidance for Food Establishments That Are Completely Closing During This Time Period

  • Move all perishable/TCS (time/temperature control for safety) foods from smaller, non-commercial refrigeration units and prep-coolers to the walk-in cooler or other large capacity cooler that maintains temperature at 41F or below. Make sure all food is properly stored and covered.
  • Freeze as many fresh or refrigerated foods as possible. Freezing bakery items, like bread will inhibit molding. Some produce, cheese and pre-cooked meats can be frozen as well.
  • Discard anything that would normally be thrown out due to the 7 day date marking rule. For example, open dairy products, deli salads made on site, lunch meat, soft cheeses, and other packaged food that has been open.
  • Discard any prepared foods that were being held hot or cold since the closure will be a minimum of 2 weeks, including cut fruits and vegetables.
  • Ensure all food and non-food contact surfaces are washed, rinsed and sanitized prior to closing to prevent contamination and attracting pests.
  • Ensure all equipment and utensils are washed, rinsed and sanitized prior to closing.
  • Remove all trash from establishment and dispose of in the waste receptacle outside of the establishment.
  • Ensure all wastewater (dish sinks, mop buckets) is properly disposed of to prevent attracting pests.
  • Ensure all outer openings are closed and tight-fitting to prevent the entrance of pests.

For Food Establishments That Remain Open

  • Follow employee health policies, do not allow ill workers to be present in the establishment.
  • Perform routine environmental cleaning (see last section of this document for cleaning instructions) often on high touch surfaces, this includes those that only food workers and employees are touching as well (POS systems, keyboards, handles to equipment, restrooms, door handles).
  • Wash hands and wear single-use disposable gloves (in accordance with 2017 FDA Food Code 3-304.15) before handling any ready to eat foods. If gloves are not available due to a supply shortage, please contact your local health department to determine an alternate policy (in accordance with 2017 FDA Food Code 3-301.11).
  • Frequently touched items, customer areas and high traffic areas should be the focus. Businesses that have utensils, equipment or other surfaces that are touched by customers frequently may consider alternate methods, such as providing disposable utensils or having employees handle equipment for the customer. It is important to continue to dispense food in a sanitary manner.

Prior to Re-opening

  • Do a thorough walk-through of entire establishment to see that things are as you left them and free from pests that may have entered during closure.
  • Discard any food that is spoiled.
  • Discard any food that was thawed or prepared prior to closing.
  • Run water through all sinks prior to using them for handwashing, food preparation, or washing since the water was sitting in the pipes for many days.
  • Deep clean the establishment prior to opening, this includes:
    • all food contact surfaces (cutting boards, prep tables, any utensils or dishes that have been stored and may have been contaminated during closure)
    • high-touch surfaces (POS systems, restrooms, door handles throughout dining and kitchen area)

CDC’s Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations


  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
    • Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
  • Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
    • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or
    • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
    • Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claims are expected to be effective against COVID-19 based on data for harder to kill viruses. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).
    • For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes, remove visible contamination if present and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. After cleaning:

Linens, Clothing, and Other Items That Go in the Laundry

  • Do not shake dirty laundry; this minimize the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.
  • Wash items as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.
  • Clean and disinfect hampers or other carts for transporting laundry according to guidance above for hard or soft surfaces.

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