Coronavirus Advice re food, deliveries and takeaways

Click here for Delivery and takeaway guidance updated 6 May 2020 

These notes are particularly for businesses who have decided to offer home deliveries as an option during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Foods may now be offered for sale by facebook, website, text or over the phone.  This is knows as 'Distance Selling' and has legal implications you must be aware of which include labelling the product and the information that must be made available before a sale takes place.

https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/distance-selling-mail-order-and-delivery

Although the risk is thought to be low, you may want to put in place controls to manage the risk of food packaging possibly being contaminated with coronavirus.  Your customers may also like to know what you are doing to reduce the risk to them.  This guidance does not go in depth into the 4 C’s (cooking, chilling, cross contamination and cleaning/disinfection) and assumes you are already aware of the principles required to keep food safe.

 

Aims of this guidance

This guidance aims to help you to:

  1. Ensure you are legally compliant
  2. Keep food safe
  3. Keep customers safe
  4. Keep delivery staff safe
  5. Provide allergen information

 

Your obligations in terms of the legal requirements to provide safe food have not been relaxed during the pandemic, and in fact are more stringent than before due to the potential means of transmission of the virus.

 

Ask for help

If you are not sure if your methods are sufficient ask for help from your local Environmental Health team or a food safety consultant.  If you have not previously registered as a food business you MUST do that with Environmental Health or via                   https://www.gov.uk/food-business-registration                                                                                                                             

 

Documentation and a Food Safety Management System

All food businesses must have documentation, known as a Food Safety Management  system (FSMS) in place to demonstrate how you buy, store, produce, cook, package                and sell or serve safe food.  If you have not considered deliveries in your current  documentation, you must now include it and show how food will remain in a safe      condition from preparation and packaging to storage, transport and via delivery.

https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/safer-food-better-business-for-caterers 

(SFBB) and

https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/media/document/sfbb-retailers-pack-

october-2019.pdf can be used or to supplement your current system

 

Minimal contact with food is essential.  Use frequent hand washing, clean utensils and use gloves where necessary.  The more contact you have with food the higher the risk to the consumer and the more controls you have to put in place to manage that risk.


Training

Trained staff may be in short supply.  All staff must have a level of training appropriate to what they do. You can carry out training in house, use e-learning or by using your food safety documentation such as SFBB and monitoring what staff do. There are several providers out there or you can access a variety of High Speed Training courses via: The-training-centre

FREE allergy training via https://allergytraining.food.gov.uk/english/


Food Safety and Hygiene – Risks and how to manage them

Staff health

Ensure that staff arrive at work well and do not have a temperature or persistent cough or any other symptom of illness or coronavirus.  It may be tempting for some staff to go into work if the symptoms are mild, however they must stay at home.

Feeling Unwell poster  Download, print and put up at work.

Encourage staff to check their own temperature before coming into work and ask the question – Are you exhibiting any symptoms today?  Send home anyone that starts to experience symptoms.

NB: Viruses can survive up to 3 hours in droplets formed in the air after coughing and the tiny droplets (30 x smaller than the width of a human hair) can remain airborne for several hours.

Follow government/NHS advice.

What should I do?   Download, print out and put up the poster.

Three steps  Download, print out and put up the poster   

Make sure you have measures in place if customers come into your business or collect from their car (e.g. one way travel through the shop, limiting the number of customers entering, hand gel for their use, reminding them not to touch or pick up anything they are not buying, marking 2m queueing points, contactless payment etc).

Ensure staff can socially distance and work 2m away from other staff and customers.  Remind them to ask customers to stand away while their shopping is being put through the till.  This may mean using other buildings or parts of your building not usually used for food service or storage.  Put the lowest risk foods in these areas (tins or packages of dried goods) but check each day to ensure they are pest free and protected from contamination.

Provide adequate hand washing facilities and sanitising hand gel for staff and customers.  You may find that staff are complaining of sore hands due to excessive hand washing and sanitising.  Provide and encourage them to use a mild, unscented hand cream before and after work and to dry their hands well, but gently, after touching anything that could be contaminated as per usual hygiene rules (and before touching their faces).

Or you can use a product such as Dermashield available via amazon and other outlets to help protect skin at the start of the day.  There are others available, but this is one we use.

Gloves: are not recommended for protection against coronavirus apart from NHS staff.  It is better to wash hands frequently and use alcohol-based sanitiser in between.

Non latex disposable gloves are often used to protect the food from the wearer in catering (or, if the wearer has allergies to the food).  Wearing gloves continuously can make hands sore due to heat and sweat.  If wearing gloves, use un-powdered ones and ensure that ‘glove breaks’ are taken to give hands a chance to breathe. 


Delivery from suppliers:

Ask companies to email their delivery policy with regard to Covid-19 or call them so you know what they will do.

Request the company driver phones you when they have parked up to prevent them walking inside (if possible) or ask them to keep 2m away from customers or staff.

Remember: transmission of the virus could be

  • From person to person (High risk)
  • From goods packaging to person (lower risk)
  • From person to goods (Medium risk)

 

The majority of transmissions are via person to person spread e.g. coughing or sneezing, but viruses can survive on hard surfaces as well. It’s thought this could be for up to 72 hours, or 3 days on plastic or steel, and up to 24 hours on cardboard.

Therefore, packages should ideally be left for 3 days to be safe. If loading and transport from the supplier to delivery at your premises has taken less than 3 days, then take the following precautions.

  • When the delivery arrives ask the driver to put it in a clearly marked (quarantined) safe place away from food that is on sale or to be packaged for delivery.
  • Keep 2m away from the driver while accepting the delivery.
  • You should not have to sign a handheld device or paper copy of a delivery note. Businesses should have advised their delivery staff of this to protect them and you.
  • If delivery is from a smaller business that does not use handheld devices, ask them to email the delivery note with a time and date. They could take a dated/timed photo for proof if necessary and send a copy with the note.]

Is the item delivered needed right away?

If not and it doesn’t have a short shelf life or isn’t perishable, leave the delivery intact for 72 hours in a secure place to reduce any virus contamination as much as possible.

Place a notice nearby stating delivery time / date and not to touch it.

Food that this applies to include tins, packets of dried goods, pasta, rice, biscuits, and some fruit and vegetables e.g. potatoes, carrots, swedes, apples.  Vacuum packs of meat can be stored in a fridge (separate from one containing ‘clean’ products) but ensure you check the Use By dates will not be exceeded when it is sold or packed for delivery.

Trace your route back to the delivery point and sanitise any handles or surfaces that have been touched when receiving the delivery.

After 72 hours remove the outer packaging and dispose of it in the bin or recycling bin. 

Remember to wash your hands afterwards.

Use or pack for delivery or sale.

Do you need it now or is it perishable?

Put the food delivery on a surface that can be cleaned and disinfected.  You may decide to disinfect outer packaging first with a disinfectant spray or bleach solution with a concentration high enough to disinfect the packaging (check the manufacturer’s instructions).  If you do this leave the package for a few minutes for the disinfectant to work, then dispose of the outer.

Wash your hands.

Clean and disinfect any areas the packaging or your hands have touched.

Or if you don’t disinfect the outer packaging, remove the outer plastic packaging or cardboard box and dispose of into a bin bag, or recycling bin.

Wash your hands.  Trace your route back and sanitise any surfaces or hand contact points (door handles, light switches) that the packaging or your hands may have contaminated.

Open the package (if necessary) and take out the contents. 

Sort the delivered goods and disinfect each item (if possible) with a disinfecting spray or wipe:  Leave for a few minutes.

Wash your hands then put away the cleaned goods.

Track back and disinfect any surfaces that may have come into contact with the packaging or your hands.


Storage

Chilled and frozen storage

Keep equipment clean and disinfected.

Separate raw and high risk/cooked ready to eat foods.

Chilled:  Keep air temperature between 2oC and 5oC and check this daily by looking at the display or using a probe in the fridge (before you start work and at the end).  Keep a record.  Chilled food temperature must be kept below 8oC. 

Frozen:  Keep the air temperature -18oC or colder.  Deliveries of frozen goods can be as warm as  -15oC.

If the air temperature on the display seems high, check an item of food.  It is OK to use an IR temperature gun to check chilled or frozen food temperatures as the outside will be the warmest part.  This will minimise any potential to introduce pathogens into the food.

If there isn’t a digital display on the fridge or freezer or you don’t have an IR temperature gun, you can place a probe in the fridge or freezer, but not near to the outlet for the cold air or freezer box in a fridge.  This will work if it has a long cable to the probes display unit.  You can also check a product substitute left in the fridge e.g. a small bottle of water but change the water periodically.

Note: Do not overstock fridges or freezers as this will prevent air circulation and not allow the food to remain at a safe temperature.


Preparation

Some foods may not need any preparation if the business is a farm shop or retailer.  However, if the business is a caterer or the business has decided to start catering then safe preparation and storage are key.  Don’t forget to provide PPE e.g. Aprons, ‘whites’ hats/hairnets and safety shoes.


Cooking

‘high risk’ food to be delivered chilled or frozen for reheating High risk foods include main meals e.g. bolognaise or shepherd’s pie and snacks such as meat-based pasties or sausage rolls.

Keep it simple and do not cook complex foods.

Ensure the food is cooked to the correct temperature (aim for 75oC in the centre).

Cool quickly, covered, to prevent contamination, for a maximum of 90 minutes at room temperature.

Place in a clean container with lid.

If selling fresh: Label with date of production, a full ingredient list (as its now pre-packed) with allergens highlighted and a Use By date.  Use 3 days including the date of production to be safe or 2 days for dishes containing fish. Add reheating instructions if applicable.

Then put in a fridge and deliver within the Use By date.

If selling frozen: Write the production date on the label and freeze as soon as possible after production.  Sell frozen with the ingredients list including highlighted allergens, defrosting, reheating/cooking and shelf life information once thawed (1 day is recommended). 

Cooking low risk food e.g. bread, cakes and biscuits

Prepare cook, cool away from contamination and covered if possible. Using cake covers allows air to circulate without the risk of contamination by insects or flies.

Do not touch the product with your hands. Use disposable gloves or utensils.

Package to prevent contamination.

Label with an ingredients list with allergens highlighted.

Remember if you are taking customers’ orders to their homes or to workplaces you are delivering pre-packed food and need to provide a full list of ingredients with the allergens highlighted:

https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/allergen-labelling-for-food-manufacturers]


Storage

Ensure that fridges and freezers are not overloaded to allow good air circulation and food stays in the legal range.  (Chilled food < 8oC and frozen < -18C (apart from ice cream on display for sale -12oC)

Keep raw foods wrapped and below cooked food if you don’t have a separate fridge.

Make sure you stock rotate using the Use By or ‘Frozen On’ dates applied when you have prepared the food.

Keep foods stored at ambient (room temperature) off the floor to allow for easy cleaning underneath and to check for pests.

Stock rotate food.


Packing for delivery

Put items for delivery in bags.  Do not deliver in plastic crates.  One person only in a vehicle (but ensure you put lone working procedures into place).

Be helpful and put ambient goods into one bag (they can then leave it for 3 days if they wish without touching anything) and fridge/freezer goods into another.  Use separate bags for raw and ready to eat/reheat.  Make sure all high-risk goods have Use By dates on them and allergen/defrosting / reheating / thawing/ cooking instructions are provided if applicable.

Label the bag with the customer’s name/address to prevent confusion, particularly over allergens.


Getting delivery vehicles ready

Make sure the vehicle is clean.  If not specifically used for food deliveries put a clean cloth or disposable paper on the base of the vehicle or line baskets or crates with clean paper (not newspapers) and place bags inside.

If using a chilled vehicle, check the air temperature.

If not using a chilled vehicle, high-risk ready to eat goods (such as cooked meat, cooked dishes or dairy products) are allowed to go above 8oC for a maximum of 4 hours.  Ensure delivery rounds are as short as possible and load chilled /frozen goods last.

Hot food is allowed to go below 63oC for a maximum of 2 hours and is still considered safe.  Recommend that it is reheated on delivery or cooled immediately and placed in the fridge until reheating.  Keep delivery time within 30 minutes.


Delivery to customers

Ideally take orders and payment by phone.  Arrange a delivery or collection day/time.  Assure them (if necessary) that the government advice is that coronavirus is not passed on in food and the risk from packaging is low.

Place the bags on the ground outside the customers door.

Knock on the door or ring the bell.  Step back 2m.  Wait until the customer opens the door before you leave.  Some businesses may require proof of delivery, so we suggest delivery drivers take a photo of the bags in front of the open door.  Do not ask customers to sign anything.

Sanitise your hands before you return to your vehicle using 60% minimum alcohol-based gel.


Resources

https://www.acs.org.uk/  Useful links to various posters for retailers

https://www.acs.org.uk/sites/default/files/home_delivery_guidance_updated_22_march.pdf

https://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/Article/2020/03/18/How-do-I-set-up-a-takeaway-service-from-my-pub

https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/allergen-guidance-for-food-businesses

https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/allergen-labelling-for-food-manufacturers

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-food-businesses/guidance-for-food-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19

 

If you have any questions do email info@safetyinaction.co.uk

 

REMEMBER guidance from the Government and NHS is constantly being updated.  Ensure you check for updates and follow this at all times.