We understand that some local food businesses may look to change their usual business type, such as cafes, restaurants and pubs, and to diversify in order to maintain their business during the Coronvirus pandemic.
This advice is food businesses looking to offer takeaway food and deliveries where they have not done so before.
Scientific advice is that it is very unlikely that Coronavirus (COVID-19) can be spread through food. However, if you’re changing your usual operations, you should think about any new hazards and ensure you have control measures in place to eliminate risks.
Your business can only offer these additional services if it’s a registered food business with us, Woking Borough Council.
If you’re the business owner and/or manager, you are responsible for ensuring that food handlers are fit for work under the food hygiene regulations. You also have a general duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of your employees and members of the public, including:
- Your employees must be provided with clear instructions on your business’s infection control policy.
- Any employee who is likely to come into contact with food provided by your business and who is affected by an infection must immediately report the illness or symptoms, and if possible the cause, to you, the food business operator.
- If you are undertaking deliveries, you must consider a delivery infection control system which allows your customers to notify the restaurant and/or delivery drivers whether they are self-isolating.
If your food business is registered, you do not need to inform us of your new takeaway and delivery services. However, you do need to review your Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) to ensure that any additional hazards, for example cross contamination and temperature control, associated with this operational change have been considered and will be documented where appropriate, such as:
- 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 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) provides advice for businesses on how to manage a food business if you sell products online, for takeaway or for delivery.
Allergens also need to be carefully considered. If food is sold at a distance, for example online 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) and
- in a written format when the food is delivered.
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 2 metres and wait nearby for your customer to collect it.
Take payments over the phone or internet rather than taking a cash payment.
Practical advice for new takeaway services
Food businesses looking to start offering food take away and delivery during the COVID -19 outbreak should review procedures to ensure you have considered any additional hazards associated with take away and delivery. Some items you may wish to consider include:
- Review your menu – think about which items are suitable for take away and delivery.
- Check insurance for you and your delivery staff covers these additional activities.
- Ensure you have adequate storage facilities for any additional stock you are purchasing.
- Think about how you are going to process the food orders eg. Are you cooking and cooling in advance or continuing to cook to order? If you decide to cook and cool, food must be cooled as quickly as possible measures to assist this include, portioning/reducing the volume of food being cooled, transferring into shallow trays, restricting joint sizes, use of an ice bath.
- Food containers must be used for food only, clean and in good condition.
- How are you going to carry out the delivery to ensure temperature control is maintained and to prevent cross contamination? For example, use of insulated boxes, using separate boxes for cold and hot food items and consider the distance you plan to deliver.
- Ensure vehicles used to transport the food are clean.
- Review your allergen procedure particularly how you are going to ensure that the correct allergen free dish gets to the correct consumer.
- How you are going to keep food hot whilst waiting for customers to collect takeaways.
- You have a duty of care to your employees so you must consider the risk to them. For example, driving risks, handling money and infection control.
For further advice or enquiries, please contact our environmental health team.