Guide: Wholesale food manufacturing amid covid-19

Through the hard work of every staff member, we have been fortunate to be able to continue operating Chabaso Bakery safely throughout the pandemic.

As cities and businesses think about reopening we would like to share our lessons learned to help others benefit from our experiences over the last 2 months. We tapped into CDC guidelines, reinforced Good Manufacturing Practices company-wide, and created new processes and procedures to minimize risks and remain operational.



Part 1: Leading and Managing during Covid19

Part 2: Health and Safety Best Practices and Procedures

Part 3: HR Best Practices and Procedures

Part 4: Downloads and additional resources


Please note

  • This document was last updated on May 21st 2020. As the situation continues to rapidly evolve, please check these statements and suggestions against the appropriate federal guidelines prior to proceeding.
  • This is not an encouragement to reopen. If anything, it should be a reality check on what it takes to operate safely during a pandemic.
  • The following advice is a result of our work and you may need to do something completely different. This is not a comprehensive list and ultimately it will be up to you to figure out what is best for your situation. Most of what we have put into place can be applied to industries outside of food.
  • This is an ongoing situation. Everything we have put into place has been with our employee’s wellbeing top of mind.


Part 1: Leading and managing during covid19

The responsibilities of running a business has a few new categories that we all need to be prepared to handle. We are breaking it down into 5 buckets, and outlining very broadly what you can expect life to look like as a you reopen.


1.1 Continuing To Operate The Day To Day Business Under New Circumstances

A new normal

  • Most likely you will have less staff, or staff working remote, and more to do.
  • You will be spending more (PPE equipment, Cleaning Supplies, Changes to Layouts, etc.) and making less

Communicate Communicate Communicate

  • Efficient Townhall style and group meetings are no longer possible while adhering to social distancing. You will most likely need to have smaller group meetings that your space allows for.
  • Daily check ins with as many people as possible. On every imaginable topic: Covid19, Steps you are taking to keep them safe, inform everyone on the health of the business. People want to know what they can expect.
  • Be honest, Listen, Hear Their Ideas
  • Lead by example.
  • Source and Provide everyone with the tools and equipment they need to be safe


  • We have a full section on this below

Supply Chain and Cash flow

  • Sales and cash flow will bevery unpredictable
  • Managing Supplier Expectations – Your vendors will be in the same situation and will be trying to collect anything owed to them
    • Create payment plans when needed
    • Be honest and don’t make promises you can’t keep
    • A real partner will work with you
  • Also expect customers to be in a similar situation, and may not have the cash to pay you as they were before
  • Anticipate disruptions in both your supply and distribution channel.  Come up with creative workarounds

1.2 Writing And Training New Processes, Procedures Across All Departments To Keep Staff And Customers Safe

  • Patience and Repetition is important.
  • We have listed our best practices in section 2 and the documents that go with it.
  • Follow CDC guidelines

1.3 Emergency Management

  • Health and Safety (See HR Section below)
  • Business (See supply chain and cash flow above)

1.4 Create Short Term Tactical Pivots That Can Inform A Long-Range Strategy

  • More than likely the plans you have for the future have changed.
  • Lean into this. It’s scary to confront that your life and your business wont snap back soon or ever.
  • The best thing you can do right now is to be creative and try to find small opportunities to explore a new idea for the future

1.5 Coping With The Mental Exhaustion Of “COVID Brain”

  • We have all had it over the last 10 weeks.
  • This is unimaginably stressful, you won’t feel like yourself
  • Not everyone will have the coping mechanisms. Find someone to talk to, be someone to talk to.
  • Take care of yourself and each other


Part 2: Health and Safety Best Practices and Procedures

To minimize the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19 contagion, we reinforced proper GMP practices and came up with processes to follow:


2.1 Personal Hygiene Training Video

  • All company-employees (including senior management) watched the Employee Personal Hygiene training video (Spanish / English versions) for Food Handlers, which included, visual demonstration of microorganism cross-contact throughout an establishment, and the need for proper and adequate hand washing after coming in contact with unsanitary surfaces and situations. Additionally demonstrated on the training video is a segment on not touch face

2.2 Secondary Hand Washing Training and Procedure

  • Demonstrated Training – Instructor and employees washed hands, counting to 20, while scrubbing hands, prior to rinsing off soap.
  • Utilize the E2 hand soap/sanitizer combination throughout the facility, to reduce microorganisms’ load on hands in one step.
  • In addition, E3 Alcohol sanitizer dispensers are positioned at different areas of the facility for constant sanitization (this does not replace hand washing).
  • Written, Proper Handwashing techniques are also posted at the hand wash stations (English / Spanish), with an explanation of “why it is important for everyone to wash their hands.”
  • DOWNLOAD: Hand washing training and procedure (English/Spanish)

2.3 Masks are required to enter the facility

  • All employees are required to wear masks at all times while in the facility. Except for when eating lunch. Tables and chairs in the Cafeteria are spaced appropriately to provide proper distancing between employees
  • Provide Masks (and any other needed PPE necessary) to Staff. Issue Single Use Daily, or washable reusable masks so they can wash nightly. Color-Code by day if possible.

2.4 Limited Access to the facility

  • No Visitors
  • Only employees and vendors that are needed to maintain daily operations can enter.
  • Alcohol sanitizer is located at the entryway for use on hands prior to entering. Then everyone is required wash their hands each and every time they enter the processing and office areas.
  • Post signs on all entrances and Train staff accordingly
  • New Procedure for 3rd party delivery drivers
    • Provide a palce for them to wash hands thoroughly upon entering facility
    • Wearing of Mask Required
    • Mobile Bathrooms provided outside.
  • Donations or Pick ups by vendors
    • Brought outside for pick up; don’t let anyone into the building.

2.5 Social Distancing

  • Employees are required to maintain a 6-feet space whenever possible.
  • Some of our staff are working from home to enable social distancing measures and reduce unneeded risk.
  • Our Remaining office staff have been spread out to provide proper distancing
  • Re-arranged the cafeteria to accommodate social distancing
  • Our conference room is now utilized as additional space for employee breaks.
  • Alcohol sanitizer spray-bottles are provided on each table, for before and after use of the space.

2.6 Establish safety measures for staff that need to leave the building to conduct business

2.7 Establish effective processes and corrective actions in the case of COVID-19 symptoms and /or confirmation

  • We established a daily checklist for self-monitoring wellness and reporting symptoms listed by CDC. Employees are asked to sign off on it once for acknowledgement and asked to conduct a self check daily. Provide thermometers to this in need.
  • Managers and supervisors conduct daily in person wellness spot checks, to ask if any staff member has felt symptoms.
  • Establish a contact point for anyone reporting symptoms. Personnel Medical Information must be kept private.
  • Establish a process that adheres to CDC guidelines for Interviewing and conducting contact-tracing for anyone who has reported symptoms, has tested positive, or has confirmed close contact with anyone who has tested positive (family member, coworker at second job, etc.)
  • It’s very important to make employees aware of the new sick time available to them. Otherwise they may be hesitant to stay home and try to “work through it”
  • Inform your staff of the seriousness of hiding or withhold valuable information related to the control of the disease.


People with COVID-19 who have stayed isolated at home can return to work after the following conditions have been met and confirmed with HR representative:

  • Employee provides doctor’s note indicating that they are cleared to return to work
  • Employee  has had NO fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers)
  •  Other symptoms of Covid-19 have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath has improved)
  • At least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
  • Employee have submitted negative tests for Covid-19
  • Have completed the COVID-19 Fitness to Return to Work Form
  • Human resources will review with employee the Covid 19 Daily Self Screening Checklist

HR representative will notify via email the specific Supervisor and CEO, to inform them when the Chabaso employee may safely return to work.


Part 3: HR Best Practices


3.1 Communication

  • Fact-based information on safety, proper practices, and assistance available to employees.
  • Methods for communication while social distancing or working in separated locations: Flyers, posters, emails, guides. Utilize scheduling software or employee portals to send out mass communications. These can also be helpful tools when you need acknowledgement or confirmation from staff that they have read an important document.
  • If dealing with multiple sites with minimal staff, assign a specific person with the responsibility for assisting with communication duties for each site.

3.2 Flexibility

  • Adjust and review policies. For example: In March, we reviewed our attendance policy and created a New Attendance Policy to insure there was no negative impact to staff for taking sick days.

3.3 Be compassionate

  • These are uncertain times, with evolving and sometimes-contradictory messages delivered by news media. It is not unusual during unprecedented and challenging times for employees to say and do things that are out of the norm for them. This is the time to step back and consider our employees’ mental and emotional well-being.
  • Do whatever you can to provide ongoing medical coverage and promote mental health benefits.  If your plan supports telemedicine, make sure the employees know how to access it.
  • Establish ways to acknowledge staff for working during this time and under circumstances that no one could have ever expected.


Part 4: Additional downloads and resources



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