Coronavirus

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Food business advice

This advice is for food businesses that are looking to change their business model to start providing takeaways and deliveries.

Scientific advice is that it is very unlikely that coronavirus can be spread through food, but, if you are changing how you operate then you should think through the hazards and make sure that you have control measures in place.

A business will only be in a position do this if they are registered as a food business with a local authority (like Harlow Council). All foods must be delivered to consumers in a way that ensures that they do not become unsafe or unfit to eat.

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

Ordering

Allergies: 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. For a list of the 14 allergens and advice on allergen management look at the FSA website

Food should be put into food safe containers for delivery. 

Transport

Foods that need refrigerating must be kept cool while they are being transported. This may need to be packed in a clean insulated box with a coolant gel or in a clean cool bag.

If you are transporting hot food, it should be kept hot. This may need to be packed in a clean insulated box. It is recommended to keep distances short and times limited to within 30 minutes.

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.

Contact-free 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 door step back at least 1 metre and wait nearby for your customer to collect it.

Take payments over the phone or internet rather than taking a cash payment.

Infection control

You are responsible for making sure food handlers are fit for work under the food hygiene regulations and you also have a general duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the people you employ and members of the public.

Staff must be provided with clear instructions on any infection control policy in place. Any customers or staff who come into contact with food must immediately report any illness or symptoms (and their causes if possible) to the food business operator. 

The government have issued guidance on coronavirus for employees and businesses

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 process in place so that clients can notify the restaurant or delivery drivers if they are self-isolating.