Food businesses

Advice to food businesses related to COVID-19

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published guidance for food businesses related to COVID-19.

The information provided includes:

  • What you need to know about Coronavirus and food
  • Food hygiene guidance
  • Managing employee sickness
  • Social distancing of customers and staff – shops and food processing plants
  • Takeaways and restaurants offering a pick- up service
  • Outdoor food markets /farmers markets 

It is important to check gov.uk for the latest advice.

Closure of non-essential businesses

The Government has issued instructions on the closure of all non-essential businesses and premises as part of further social distancing measures, including restaurants, cafes, public houses, bars and nightclubs, including bars in night club needing to be shut.  Please see the full details.

Existing take away and delivery services

Existing take away and delivery services (which are already registered with the Local Authority), may remain open and operational in line with the guidance issued.

Allergies- don’t forget to protect your customers.

In these uncertain times it is easy to forget about the basic requirements. Taking precautions regarding allergies is still essential. 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.
Allergic reactions to ingredients can be fatal. Please see the full list of 14 allergens for further information and follow the FSA advice on allergies.

Food transportation

Food should be put into food safe containers for delivery.  Consider the time and distance for delivering and try and keep both to a minimum to maintain food quality and safety. Ensuring good temperature control is essential. 

For food safety and quality, you will want to ensure hot ready to eat food is delivered piping hot. You will need to consider how to do this. Insulated cool boxes / bags are a good way to keep the heat in food.  Also deliver the food as quickly as possible after preparing. Likewise if food is intended to be eaten cold, keep it cold, and use insulated cold storage boxes or similar to keep the temperature between 0-5C .

  • Vehicles must be fit for purpose and food must not be subjected to potential contamination. 
  • Keep the interior of the vehicle clean and do not transport food with animals or chemicals such as fuel, oil and screen wash.
  • Check your vehicle insurance to ensure you are covered for business use. 
  • Alcoholic beverages must not be delivered - unless you already have a licence to do so.
  • Hot food and drink must not be served between 11pm and 5am unless you already have a licence to do so.

Preparation

As per your normal operation, food should always be prepared hygienically to prevent cross contamination.  Be extra vigilant with hand hygiene and follow the Catch-it, Bin-it, Kill-it advice. 

If any of your normal cooking processes have changed to provide delivered food, eg if you are now cooking – chilling – for delivery of cold meals where before you used to just cook – serve hot, then consider the cooling, storing and delivery process and how this can be done safely. It’s important to update your procedures on these changes to demonstrate you have considered any risks to food safety. Ensure any staff are made aware of these changes.

Contact-free delivery

Limiting contact when delivering orders will help keep everyone healthy. Even if customers consider themselves virus free, you should consider leaving deliveries at the door of your customer, rather than handing it over to them. Knock on the door step 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. Try to avoid the need to take a cash payment. If the customer has to pay cash, ask the customer for exact change or consider pricing your dishes to even prices, eg £10 instead of £10.40 or £9.80 to minimise the need for change. Ensure your driver has some alcohol gel to clean their hands after handling money.

Government advice is to keep a distance - at least three steps away (2metres) from others. You may want to have a system whereby you leave the food delivery on the step of the house then telephone the customer, or similar.

Further guidance on food deliveries and takeaways has been published by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

Relaxation of planning use

The Government has announced a relaxation of planning rules to assist pubs and restaurants etc during the Coronavirus pandemic. Please see GOV.UK for further information on relaxing planning rules.

If you have queries or concerns regarding food deliveries then use the Contact Us form.

For further information, please see our Coronavirus (COVID-19) page.
 

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