We expect a lot from Marks and Spencer. Rightly so, they also expect high standards from their suppliers. However, the M&S response to Covid-19 as evidenced by their failure to protect all their bakery items in their in-store bakeries is disappointing.

I was surprised to get an Email from a former student a few days ago saying that unpacked bakery items were on display in a Marks and Spence store in Northern Ireland. I was surprised since the major mechanism for spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes Covid-19, is aerosol droplets produced from infected people that are present in the air. Infection occurs when we breathe in the droplets, touch surfaces where the droplets have landed or eat food contaminated by these droplets.

Electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2. Copyright  NIAID.

Today I went into my local M&S in Cookstown and yes the bakery had lots of bakery items, unpackaged and potentially exposed to contamination by the the SARS-CoV-2 virus. I mentioned my concerns to a staff member whose immediate reaction was "that's what we have always done!". Obviously this needs to change.

Selection of bakery items at local Marks and Spencer store on the 20th March 2020. Note many are not packaged.