Food Safety Division continues to observe food safety violations during COVID-19 pandemic

Food Safety Division continues to observe food safety violations during COVID-19 pandemic

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Food Safety Division of the Inspectorate of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA) has observed and continues to do so, violations concerning food safety requirements in establishments that are permitted to open to the public during this outbreak.

The virus being able to survive in the air, on objects and clothing for various lengths of time, makes the preventive measures and follow up essential if these public gathering spots are to remain operational.

The following measures must be taken:

Entrance and traffic

  • All customers and staff including management and security should sanitize hands prior to entering the building. (Spray all customers hands with minimum 70% alcohol)
  • A maximum capacity for any operation should not exceed five (5) square meters per person including staff.
  • All doors to entrance should remain open if not automatic.
  • Persons must be encouraged to maintain a safe distance from each other (signs & security enforced where possible.
  • Railings and counters should be wiped, sprayed or sanitized minimally every 30 minutes.

Staff and customer interactions

  • Staff must also adhere to social distancing when possible.
  • Staff should report any illness or symptoms to management and sent home immediately.
  • Staff observing any customers coughing or sneezing and report to security or management immediately.
  • Staff should report any dangerous or unsafe behavior of any person staff or customer.

Staff-to-Staff interaction

  • Social distancing is also required to be followed amongst coworkers.
  • Staff should remove clothing and follow handwashing guidelines prior to lunch break.
  • Ideally staff should change uniform shirt or blouse every 4 hours when in constant contact with customers i.e.; cashiers, stockers.
  • When gloves are being used ensure that they are changed, and proper handwashing procedures followed.

 Cashier area

  • All cashiers should practice sanitizing their area prior to shift and minimally every 30 minutes, ideally after every interaction.
  • When handling cash, cashiers should avoid physical contact with the other person.
  • Ensure a quick and speedy process as to minimize time with customer.
  • Limit personal interactions.
  • Cashiers should wash hands every 30 minutes.
  • Cash screen/keys/pan and swipe machines must be sanitized after each use. (Wiped or sprayed.)


  • All aisles should be clear and free of boxes as to prevent easy flow of traffic and prevent bottlenecks where persons need to be in close proximity.
  • Every hour shelves and displayed products should be dusted (sprayed with Lysol or a similar agent).
  • All doors / drawers that require human touch should be sanitized minimally every 30 minutes.
  • Prior to opening and closing all aisles and products displayed should be dusted (sprayed)

 Coolers and Freezers

  • All doors and handles to coolers and freezers must be sanitized every 30 minutes.
  • Open display coolers sides need to be sanitized every 30 minutes.

Fresh Produce

  • Displayed fresh products area should have signs asking customers to shop visually and not touch produce and return to shelf.
  • Maintain sanitization and cleanliness.
  • Limit stock displayed to a minimum.


  • All nonessential staff and staff with underlying heath issues should not be allowed to work and should be in self-isolation.
  • Schedules should be structured by way of shifts and groups e.g. group A works shift A. (limit physical interaction between groups and shifts)

 Personal Hygiene

  • Handwashing stations should be located within 10 meters of staff.
  • All handwashing stations should contain running water under pressure.
  • Handwashing station should contain soap, disposable paper towel and (hand sanitizer)
  • Staff are required to wash their hands every hour when not in direct contact with customer and every 30 minutes when in contact with customers.
  • All staff is required to start shift in clean washed clothing.
  • All staff is required to take minimum two showers a day prior to and after every shift.
  • Staff is forbidden to use cell phones during shift.
  • Staff is forbidden to smoke during shift.
  • Jewelry should not be worn during shift (under present conditions)
  • All personal items should be stored in safe location not readily accessible to staff i.e.; cell phones, bags purses etc.)


  • All public access equipment needs to be sanitized every hour.
  • Self-service items should not be offered, and equipment cleaned, sanitized & covered. (Juicers & coffee stations etc.)
  • All in use equipment should be sanitized as per operating procedure.
  • Air conditioning filters and vents need to be cleaned and sanitized as per operating procedure.

Shopping Carts and baskets

  • All carts and baskets are required to be washed daily prior to opening.
  • All carts and baskets need to be sanitized every 30 minutes by means of wiping the handles and dusting (spraying) the interior
  • Sanitizer wipes should be made available to customers and packer staff.

 Transportation and staff

  • All vehicles used by staff should contain sanitation wipes.
  • All door handles are to be sanitized as used.
  • All contact surfaces wiped. Steering wheel, shifter emergency brake, seat belt buckle, window handle or buttons & radio knob.
  • Staff should refrain from using public transportation (buses)

 Safety equipment use

  • Proper use of gloves is essential and requires more focus from the.
  • The proper facemasks are to be used when handling ready to eat food.
  • Gloves and proper procedures are to be used when preparing ready to eat foods.


  • All public areas of any given operation are to be washed and cleaned daily prior to opening. This includes front of entrance area floors walls and receiving area.
  • All restrooms are to be cleaned and sanitized every 30 minutes during operating hours.
  • All restrooms are to be maintained with paper towel, soap and hand sanitizer.
  • Sanitizing wipes should be made available to customers using restrooms.
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