Coronavirus / COVID-19 Facts for Food Service

Coronavirus / COVID-19 Facts for Food Service

*Please note the numbers in this post were updated March 4th, 2020. The state of COVID-19 in the US has and will continue to dramatically evolve each day. We hope you find this snapshot in time helpful, and for the latest details, please check out more resources at

Nearly 100,000 cases of Coronavirus have been confirmed since December 2019 across 97 countries and six continents resulting in over 3,000 deaths . This informational sheet summarizes facts and best practices for the food service industry in preparation for the spreading virus. As a leader in hand hygiene verification, PathSpot strongly encourages thorough handwashing for disease prevention.

How Does Coronavirus Spread?

Coronavirus is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes, as well as from contact with contaminated surfaces.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the virus can also be transmitted through the fecal-oral route. This means that stool may contaminate hands, food, or water.

What Can the Food Industry Do?

Infected food workers could introduce the virus to food by coughing and sneezing, or through hand contact, unless they strictly follow the recommended personal hygiene practices.

“To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels.”

— World Health Organization

Government agencies recommend food businesses:

  • Ensure staff and contractors report any physical signs or symptoms, before starting work

  • Provide the correct facilities to enable staff to practice good hygiene

  • Ensure effective supervision of staff to reinforce hygienic practices

“Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.”

— Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

How PathSpot Can Help

Ineffective handwashing is a major contributor to the spread of illness.

In an FDA study on handwashing in restaurants, it was found that 73% of handwashes fail to meet the quality standards required to be effective— when using gloves, compliance falls to just 16%.

PathSpot detects contamination and verifies effective handwashing.

After washing and drying their hands, team members place their hands under the PathSpot hand scanner to check for fecal contamination that transmits Norovirus, E.coli, Salmonella, other foodborne illnesses, and Coronavirus.

Instant Feedback

The 2-second scan gives an instant result. When contamination is detected, team members are directed to rewash and rescan before returning to work.

Data-Driven Insights

On the PathSpot Dashboard, managers can see the frequency and efficacy of handwashing at the team and individual level. Operators will have real-time visibility into handwashing and safety so they can ensure staff are following good personal hygiene practices that reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Learning From Data

PathSpot has generated individualized handwashing data for hundreds of restaurants across the US and beyond. This data provides specific, actionable improvements for managers and team leaders to improve sanitation and reduce the spread of illness.

In an aggregated and anonymous form, this data helps any food provider learn from common trends and food safety mistakes. In this summary, PathSpot shares lessons learned from data on millions of handwashes.

When is Contamination Most Likely?

PathSpot most frequently detects contamination in the early morning and during shift changes— it’s important to ensure team members wash their hands at the start of each shift!

Contamination is regularly detected at a higher rate during the initial period after PathSpot has been installed. Providing real-time feedback on handwashing quality empowers team members with the knowledge to reduce contamination rates in the future.

Another major factor in handwashing effectiveness is manager turnover. When team leaders change, handwashing rates change dramatically (sometimes for the better!).

How Can Handwashing Be Improved?

Remove Rings & Jewelry

PathSpot commonly detects contamination on or near rings. Recent studies involving healthcare workers also found that ring wearing is associated with an increased risk of hand contamination.

Scrub Between Fingers & Under Fingernails

The CDC recommends scrubbing the underside of fingernails with soap and water (or a nail brush) during every handwash. PathSpot also detects contamination on the webs between fingers, which merit additional focus during handwashing.

Avoid Recontamination

After completing a full, 20-second handwash with warm water and a generous amount of soap, it is important to prevent recontamination before returning to work. Dry hands with single-use paper towels, and turn off the faucet with paper towels to prevent recontamination.

See here for a PDF fact sheet of this post.

Find more resources on COVID-19 at

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Coronavirus in the United States

Coronavirus in the United States

*Please note the numbers in this post were updated February 19th, 2020. The state of COVID-19 in the US has and will continue to dramatically evolve each day. 

Public Health Officials Agree: Handwashing is the Best Way to Prevent the Spread of Illness.

Two weeks ago, the first transmission of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was confirmed in the United States. Details are still emerging as authorities respond to the rapidly evolving situation, but researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have cited handwashing as a key tool in slowing epidemics, such as COVID-19.

What Are We Up Against?

COVID-19 in the US


Primarily respiratory

Fecal to oral possible

Confirmed Cases:

15 to date


0 to date


UC Riverside Bioengineering; WHO; CDC as of 2020.02.183

Foodborne Illness in the US


Primarily fecal to oral



~128,000 / year


~3,000 / year


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Is Coronavirus an Urgent Problem in the United States?

While it is is fortunate that the U.S. has not yet reported any deaths, coronavirus has had tragic ramifications playing out near the epicenter of the disease in China. More than 70,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide, and nearly 2,000 people have sadly passed. Additionally, the global supply chain disruption will cost the world economy billions.

Thankfully in the US, Awareness and Technology Are Saving Lives.

We’re pushing for this same awareness in the foodservice industry.

“Fecal to Oral route…? I didn’t need that visual”

-You, we guess

We agree. It’s gross.

Yet, on average, PathSpot partners are uncovering that 1 in 5 food-handlers are working with a potentially harmful amount of fecal matter on their hands. PathSpot detects trace amounts of feces, empowering your employees to take real-time corrective action. We couple this with an Analytics Suite to create an unprecedented risk management tool for food safety.

You Have the Power to Prevent Disease.

And PathSpot can help.

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