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Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates and advice

Food businesses - coronavirus guidance

On Tuesday 23 June, it was announced that pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen, providing they adhere to COVID secure guidelines, from Saturday 4 July.

The Prime Minister has also set out that where it is not possible to stay two metres apart, guidance will allow people to keep a social distance of ‘one metre plus’. This means staying one metre apart, plus mitigations which reduce the risk of transmission.

Updated guidance has been provided to support businesses with the application of the coronavirus regulations and guidance including how to make your workplace coronavirus secure and how to carry out a coronavirus risk assessment.

We have been working very closely with businesses to provide advice and guidance and will continue to do so. If you have any questions, concerns or complaints, please take the time to look through the relevant guidance before contacting us.

Updated guidance: Businesses which must still be closed and exemptions

There is updated guidance as to which businesses can open and which are still to remain closed  Failure to follow the law relating to these closures can lead to the individual responsible for the business being issued a prohibition notice, a fixed penalty notice or prosecution.

Employers who have people in their offices or on site are advised to ensure that employees are able to follow the government’s guidelines on working safely.

The Food Standards Agency have also produced guidance on re-opening and adapting your food business during COVID-19and a reopening checklist for food businesses.

Food delivery and takeaway guidance 

This advice is additional guidance for businesses providing takeaways and delivering meals in the community. It should be used in conjunction with, and to supplement the business’s own food policy (Safer Food Better Business, or equivalent) and Public Health England guidance on coronavirus on the GOV.UK website. Public Health England has provided guidance to food businesses on coronavirusand The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has also produced food delivery and takeaway guidance.

Delivery planning

Current scientific advice is that it is very unlikely that COVID-19 can be spread through food, however, if you are changing how you usually operate then you should think through the hazards and ensure that you have control measures in place.

  • if you are not already registered with the council as a food business, you should complete a registration form 
  • cashless payments should be set up to avoid cash/change payment at the site of delivery – BACS, telephone card payment, or similar is suggested
  • any advertising/menu should include an allergen prompt to encourage anyone with an allergy or dietary requirement to enquire about this in advance.
  • the allergy information in Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) should be followed and a decision made whether any particular allergy requirement can be catered for or not. Furthermore, a general assessment needs to be made as to whether a delivery service can be safely provided alongside an in-house food service.  The Safer Food Better Business pack should be updated/enhanced to reflect the delivery service and how it will be offered safely.
  • it is advised that food is offered cooked and ready to consume immediately i.e. the customer cooling food for consumption later is best avoided
  • determine if you are also going to cook, cool and send food out cold for consumption at a later time - if so, the cooling of food safe methods must be followed in Safer Food Better Business and the advice to the customer should be to fully re-heat, where appropriate (above 75oC)/until piping hot and to consume the same day

Food cooking/packing

  • it is suggested that you record the core temperature of your cooked high risk food in your SFBB diary daily
  • food should not be cooked too far in advance of service and adequate provision needs to be made for it to be hot held until sent out for delivery at 63oC or above
  • food should be packaged in a disposable, lidded container - this should not be returned by the customer for re-use
  • provide an adequate number of insulated boxes for delivery to ensure the food arrives to the customer at 63oC or above - the distance and number of deliveries needing to be made will form part of this consideration and it is recommended to keep distances fairly short and times limited to within 30 minutes
  • it is strongly suggested that the insulated box is made of a wipeable material i.e. plastic or similar, rather than cloth/fabric based as this will not be easy to sanitise on a regular basis
  • the insulated box should be sanitised (both internally and externally) at the start of the day before used for carrying food and after deliveries, and also regularly throughout the day
  • consideration will need to be given to a separate insulated box for any cold food deliveries i.e. food to be re-heated later in the day or cold puddings. These should be supplied with an adequate number of ice packs to ensure cold food arrives at 8oC or colder - the ice packs should be sanitised as per the insulated box.
  • carry out periodic checks to ensure the food is arriving adequately hot or cold and record this in the Safer Food Diary

Use of delivery staff/vehicles

  • check that the car insurance of the delivery driver covers business use and that the vehicle is safe (copy of most recent MOT, or similar)
  • the vehicle should be generally clean and tidy
  • there should also be no smoking in the vehicle
  • the delivery driver should be given a basic induction on handling the food correctly and health monitoring should be in place - staff need to be checked daily to ensure they aren’t showing any relevant Coronavirus symptoms (fever, persistent cough etc.). If so, they need to be immediately sent home as per the self-isolation guidance. The usual 48-hour exclusion applies for (non-Coronavirus related) sickness and diarrhoea.
  • the driver, where possible, should avoid coming into the main kitchen area and avoid excessive kitchen staff contact - it is suggested that one of the kitchen staff ‘box up’ the food and place in a low risk area of the kitchen ready for the driver to pick up and deliver
  • the driver should wash their hands with soap and water both on arrival and returning to the kitchen

Food delivery

  • if possible, the driver should be provided with alcohol hand sanitiser at 60%+ alcohol content as suggested by Public Health England - for periodic use between the individual deliveries
  • it is preferable there is no physical handing over of the food from the driver to the customer
  • there should be a set drop off point established in advance such as the door step
  • the doorbell or door can then be rung/knocked and the driver to distance themselves 6 feet (2 Metres) as per Public Health guidance - this is especially important where a customer is either in self-isolation or ill
  • you must ensure you have a system in place to enable the customer to notify you of any self-isolation/illness in advance of delivering
  • drivers should not enter the customer’s property in any circumstance
  • consideration needs to be given where a customer does not answer the door as to whether the food will be left or returned - setting up an approximate time of delivery and contact details such as a telephone number should help minimise this issue

Food takeaway

If you plan to provide food which customers can collect from your premises, much of the guidance above still applies. You should encourage non-cash payments, with telephone, BACS or contactless payments being preferable.

You should also designate a low risk area for handover of the food. This should be well away from the kitchen area and at a distance from as many staff as possible. Staff handing over the food should place the food down and keep a sensible distance from the customer. This area should regularly be sanitised throughout the day and staff should wash their hands after each handover.

You must not allow customers to use outdoor seating areas for the consumption of food. The food must be taken away and consumed in the home.

Further guidance and links

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have provided advice for business – How to manage a food business if you sell products online, for takeaway or for delivery

Allergens – There is a wealth of advice for businesses on allergen management on the FSA website

The Government have issued guidance on COVID-19 for employees and businesses

Seafish have provided some specific guidance tailored to fish and chip shops reopening.

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