Coronavirus information for food businesses
We understand that businesses may look to change their business model and diversify in order to maintain their business during this time.
Detailed below is information which hopefully you will find helpful to assist you in providing a safe service that protects both you, your staff and your customers.
The following advice is primarily for food businesses that are already registered but are looking to make provision for takeaways and deliveries, where they have not done so before. However, the advice relating to contact free delivery practices and infection control is important for those businesses already offering this service too.
Scientific advice is that it is very unlikely that Coronavirus (COVID-19) can be spread through food, but, if you are changing how you are used to operating then you should think through the hazards and ensure that you have control measures in place.
All foods must be delivered to consumers in a way that ensures that they do not become unsafe or unfit to eat. Foods that need refrigerating must be kept cool while they are being transported. This may need to be packed in an insulated box with a coolant gel or in a cool bag. If you are transporting hot food, it should be kept hot. This may need to be packed in an insulated box. It is recommended to keep distances short and times limited to within 30 minutes.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has provided advice for businesses on how to manage a food business if you sell products online, for takeaway or for delivery.
- If you have a website you should put a clear sign on this stating “Please speak to a member of staff if you have any food allergies”
- When customers phone to place an order, you should ask them if they or any of the people eating the food have any allergies. If they do, make a note of their requirements and ensure their food is prepared safely for them then clearly labelled. Any food prepared for allergenic customers should be stored separately for and during delivery
- If you are not in a position to prepare allergen-free meals you must make this clear to customers
- Allergic reactions to ingredients can be fatal. Please see the full list of 14 allergens for further information.
There is a wealth of advice for businesses on allergen management on the FSA website. Food should be put into food-safe containers for delivery.
Limiting contact when delivering orders will help keep everyone healthy, so you could consider:
- Leaving deliveries at the door of your customer, rather than handing it over to them
- Knock on the doorstep back at least 2 metres and wait nearby for your customer to collect it
- Take payments over the phone or internet rather than taking a cash payment.
Contact-free service for takeaway
- Encourage your customers to phone through their orders and deliver the food to them
- Limit the number of customers allowed into the premise to order the takeaway. You will need systems in place to manage this and also to manage how people are queuing outside the premises, for example, signs on your door/and or window
- Ensure that customers stand at least two meters away from the counter when ordering. Step back to maintain distance when the customer presents payment (preferable card rather than cash) or collects the food from the counter
- Wash your hands after handling any money, and make sure you do not touch your face until you have been able to wash your hands
- Clean down counters between customers
- Customers CANNOT stay and eat at the premises. You are therefore advised to remove any tables and chairs in the waiting area where possible
- Disinfect any hand contact surfaces e.g door handles regularly.
You have responsibilities to ensure food handlers are fit for work under the food hygiene regulations and in addition you have a general duty to ensure the Health, Safety and Welfare of persons in your employment and members of the public.
Relevant staff must be provided with clear instructions on any infection control policy in place, and any person so affected and employed in a food business and who is likely to come into contact with food is to report immediately the illness or symptoms, and if possible their causes, to the food business operator.
The Government have issued guidance on COVID-19 for employees and businesses.
However, this is not specific for food businesses, but it does advise that ‘if you have been asked to self-isolate, you can order by phone or online, such as through takeaway services or online shopping deliveries. However, make sure you tell the delivery driver that the items are to be left outside, or as appropriate for your home.
If you are undertaking deliveries, then you should have a system in place to ascertain/develop a system whereby clients can notify the restaurant/delivery drivers whether they are self-isolating so that action can be taken accordingly as highlighted above.
Regular handwashing is vitally important in a food business but now more so than ever staff must regularly wash their hands. Effective hand washing must follow an appropriate technique. Handwashing techniques using soap and water, published by:
The Department of Health: http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_063674
Although there may be slight variations, these techniques all include the following stages:
- Wetting of hands prior to applying soap
- A prescribed technique for hand rubbing, aimed at physically removing contamination from all parts of the hands
- Turning off the taps without directly touching the tap
- Hygienic drying
If you are using gloves you must ensure that this is done in a hygienic way and that it is not a substitute for regular hand washing for example if a potentially contaminated surface is touched, or dirty task was undertaken while wearing gloves the gloved hands should be washed using the correct hand washing technique. Ensure that hands are always washed thoroughly before putting gloves on and after taking them off. Care must be taken to ensure that hands do not contaminate gloves when they are being put on.
Petrol Pumps and other surfaces touched while out delivering:
Delivery drivers will need to regularly fill up their vehicles during the course of their work. It is thought that the virus can survive on the surface of the petrol pump so care must be taken when getting fuel. Drivers should wear gloves when touching the pump, removing these as soon as they have returned the pump, before touching anything else. They should then wash their hands as soon as possible (and before they deliver any foods) and ensure that they do not touch their face until they have been able to do so.
Hands must also be thoroughly washed or a hand gel used after touching door handles and bells etc. while delivering.
Visit the Government website on guidance for food businesses on Coronavirus (COVID-19).