COVID-19 and our commitment to our employees, customers, and your customers
As a food manufacturer and a company where safety and sustainability are our core pillars, food safety and the health of our employees, customers and their customers is of primary importance. Given the ongoing and future impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on safety, our retail partners, and our end consumers in the fresh food sectors, we wanted to keep you informed as to how we are handling this situation across our facilities.
We have implemented the combined approach of educating our people, planning for possible unexpected occurrences and equipping our teams with the right tools to ensure continuous, safe, work flow. Here are some of the proactive steps that we have taken:
• Encouraging sick employees to stay home; sick leave policies are flexible and our employees are aware of these policies.
• Our Supply Chain leaders continue to take action to review and confirm that we have adequate materials and supplies to meet our customer needs. That includes securing the needed safety and sanitation materials to ensure the safety of our employees and our product. We are also talking with suppliers about internal precautions they have taken to ensure their employee’s health and wellness.
• Emphasizing respiratory etiquette and excellent hand hygiene by all employees at work and at home; distributing literature and signage supporting this focus.
• Advising employees at all levels of our organization to review and consider travel advisories and to take the necessary precautions prior to travel.
• All department heads have participated with their teams in COVID-19 information and training sessions. We know knowledge is power so we rely on the CDC for factual and up to date advisories. By keeping our folks informed, adhering to our known safety standards, excellent personal hygiene, and having a company wide plan we are taking immediate measures to respond to this issue.
On behalf of our President and CEO, Andrew Smart, we want to assure you that we will continue to monitor and relay information to our Duke family as well as to our partners such as yourself, as it becomes available. These first measures that Duke is taking in response to Covid-19 are measures that will be an effective response to any future similar situation. There is much more to learn about the Coronavirus and it’s transmission, severity, and treatment, and we know that investigations are ongoing.
Some frequently asked questions:
Can I get Coronavirus from food?
There is currently no evidence that the Coronavirus/COVID-19 can be spread through the food you eat. “We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging,” said a spokesperson from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Benjamin Chapman, a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University, explained that because the mode of infection is primarily respiratory, the chance of getting COVID-19 from food is extremely low. “In fact, we don’t see evidence of any respiratory viruses being transmitted through food in the past,” he said.
Is there any reason I shouldn’t go shopping?
There is no evidence that you would get COVID-19 from food, but exercise common sense if shopping in a public place around others. This doesn’t mean you should stop shopping, but you should be cautious and follow simple protective measures like regularly washing your hands, not touching your nose and mouth if your hands aren’t clean, staying home if you’re sick, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, keeping a distance of at least three feet from people who are coughing or sneezing, and seeing a doctor if you have a fever, cough and trouble breathing.
Are there any precautions to take when preparing food at home?
Yes, it is safe to prepare food at home, but as always, wash your hands as much as possible and don’t prepare food for others if you’re showing symptoms, unless it’s absolutely necessary to do so. Probably the most helpful resource is the FoodSafety.gov guide to food safety that you can read here: https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep-food-safe/4-steps-to-food-safety. These tips are applicable even outside time of crisis.