20 March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Advice for food businesses

The Community Secretary has confirmed that planning rules will be relaxed to allow food businesses to operate as takeaways during the coronavirus, the relaxation period will be applied imminently for a limited period only.

Chorley Council understand that businesses may look to change their business model and diversify in order to maintain their business during this time.

A business is only in position to do this if they are currently registered and regulated by the Local Authority.

Although scientific advice has reported that it is unlikely that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food, it is still vital that food business operators exercise effective hygiene controls, to ensure that food produced is suitable for human consumption and free from contamination. 

DELIVERING FOODS


F
oods 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) have provided advice for business – ‘How to manage a food business if you sell products online, for takeaway or for delivery.’ 'https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/distance-selling-mail-order-and-delivery

 

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.

Where possible take payments over the phone or internet rather than taking a cash payment.

 

HYGEINE

We aware of some difficulties in accessing suitable soap, detergent, disinfectants (antibacterial products) and sanitisers to enable effective cleaning and disinfection of utensils and equipment, surfaces and hands.


SURFACES

Where suitable surface disinfectants are unavailable for use then you must ensure that you minimise the contact points of raw foods. Always designate separate areas for raw food preparation and ready to eat food preparation. 

You must continue to adequately clean any food preparation surfaces using detergent and hot water, ensuring that you use different disposable cloths for raw food preparation areas and ready to eat food preparation areas.


EQUIPMENT AND UTENSILS

If the same utensils and equipment are used for both raw food and ready-to-eat food, at separate times, then you should continue to follow your control procedures as per your food safety management system to ensure that utensils and equipment are disinfected between uses, using your dishwasher on the hottest full cycle.

Dishwashers must be cleaned and functioning correctly. If the dishwasher is not working correctly it will not be an effective control. When using a dishwasher, you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions and allow the washing cycle to complete fully. 

Any method of heat disinfection is acceptable if the process removes E. coli O157 from all surfaces. For example, a sterilising sink or a steam cleaner. Adequate time and temperature combinations may need to be considered and utensils and equipment should be visibly clean prior to any heat disinfection. 

If heat disinfection or a dishwasher is not available, then equipment and utensils must not be shared. As such they should be specifically designated for either raw food only or for ready-to-eat food only.


HANDS

Regardless of the availability of hand sanitisers, all food handlers should regularly wash their hand using warm running water, hand soap and drying with disposable towels. Further details on how to effectively wash hand may be found at:

https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/media/document/sfbb-retailers-handwashing%20%281%29.pdf

If liquid hand soaps are unavailable, then you should use alternatives such as soap bars.

Please refer to attached/included NHS handwashing poster.

 

ALLERGENS

Allergens also need to be considered if food is sold at a distance (e.g. internet sales or home delivery), the allergen information must be provided:

  • before the purchase of the food is complete (this could be in writing or verbally)
  • in a written format when the food is delivered.

Allergen advice can be found: https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/allergen-guidance-for-food-businesses

 

INFECTION CONTROL

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. 

 

SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES

The Chancellor has set out a package of measures to support businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

More information on support available can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businessesabout-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses or https://chorley.gov.uk/Pages/AtoZ/Covid-19-(coronavirus)-information-.aspx​