Businesses now operating as a takeaway
Stoke-on-Trent City Council understands that businesses may look to change their business model and diversify in order to maintain their business during this time.
The following advice is for those businesses that are looking to make provision for takeaways and deliveries where they have not done so before. 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.
Scientific advice is that it is very unlikely that COVID-19 can be spread through food, but, if you are changing how you are used to operating then you should think through the hazards and ensure that you have control measures in place.
In addition to the current food safety controls you already have in place these are additional issues you need to consider:
- Registration - A business will only be to store, prepare, distribute or sell food if they are registered as a food business with a Local Authority. If you need to register your business do this online at www.gov.uk/food-business-registration.
- Suppliers - ensure you continue to use reputable suppliers.
- Products safety and Allergens - Due to a disruption in their supply chain, certain ingredients and packaging might be in short supply and food businesses may leave out or substituting ingredients in a product. In these situations, it is important that food businesses remember their legal obligations to only place safe food on the market. Any change to product, packaging or processing requires a full review of the businesses food safety management system. If you have made any changes to your menu ensure you have reviewed your allergy information. There is also a wealth of advice for businesses on allergen management on the Food Standards Agency website
Do not serve people with a food allergy or intolerance if you cannot guarantee that their food has not been contaminated with their specific allergen.
- Hand washing - Regardless of the availability of hand sanitisers, all food handlers should regularly wash their hands using warm running water, hand soap and drying with disposable towels. If using gloves, must change them before and after preparing food.
NB hand washing is more effective than hand sanitisers.
- Payment: Avoid handling money and encourage the use of contactless payments if possible. If food handlers must handle money, it is important to wash hands afterwards and always before handling food.
- Cross contamination - To help avoid the transmission of COVID-19 through surface contact, frequent washing and sanitising of all food contact surfaces and utensils is advised.
- Surface disinfectants - suitable surface disinfectants must be available in order for you to adequately clean any food preparation surfaces and equipment.
- Food handlers must ensure frequent cleaning and sanitising of counters, serving utensils and condiment containers.
- You must remove all in store seating if possible.
- Keep doors open where possible to minimise contact during trading hours.
- If possible, hand sanitiser should be made available to consumers on their way in and out of the food premises.
- Touch points e.g. trollies, keypads, door handles etc., should be cleaned more frequently.
- At premises where there is seating, customers will not be allowed to use the seating and so these areas must be closed off to prevent use. You may wish to do this with some form of barrier or with notices to customers clearly displayed, or by simply removing the chairs or by stacking them on your tables.
- Some food businesses have ceased using ‘keep’ cups / containers as an extra precautionary measure and are just using disposable drinking containers. This is a measure put in place by individual businesses to reduce risk to workers and should be supported by customers. This is not a legal requirement.
- Transport of food - All foods must be delivered to consumers in a way that ensures that they do not become unsafe or unfit to eat. Foods that need refrigerating must be kept cool during transportation. 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 or bag. It is recommended to keep travel distances short and times limited to within 30 minutes.
- Vehicles - All vehicles used to transport or deliver food must be kept clean, in good repair and condition and free from sources of contamination to protect food. All foods must be fully wrapped or packaged for transport or delivery to prevent contamination.
- Contact-free delivery - When customers place an order you need to ask if they are self-isolating, this is so that you limit contact when delivering orders to help keep everyone healthy. (You could consider leaving deliveries at the door of your customer, rather than handing it over to them. Knock on the door, then step back at least 2 metres and wait nearby for your customer to collect it. Please encourage the customers to leave the exact amount that you need.
- Infection Control - You have responsibilities to ensure food handlers are fit for work under the food hygiene regulations. 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, any person with illness or symptoms must report it to a person in charge. Ensure the Government's infection control policy in relation to coronavirus is followed.
However, 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 system in place to ascertain/develop a system whereby clients can notify the restaurant/delivery drivers whether they are self-isolating so that action can be taken accordingly as highlighted above.
Please note: This is not an authoritative interpretation of the law and is intended only for guidance.