COVID-19: Guidance for Food Businesses
Mendip District Council understand 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.
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. Consider using the covid-19 checklist to ensure you have everything in place:
A business will only be in a position do this if they are registered as a food business with a Local Authority. If you need to register your business do this online at Register A Food Business
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) have provided advice for business - How to manage a food business if you sell products online, for takeaway or for delivery.
Allergens - There is a wealth of advice for businesses on allergen management on the FSA website at Allergen advice for food businesses
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.
Takeaways can now open to walk in customers without the need to pre order. However, wherever possible customers should still be encouraged to order online, by app, or by phone.
Customers waiting to order or collect should wait in a designated area where 2-metre distance from other people can be maintained. If this is not possible, customers should enter the premises one at a time and only when their order is ready to be made or collected. Collection times should be staggered to discourage crowding outside the premises.
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.
If someone becomes unwell at work with a new and continuous cough or a high temperature, they must be sent home to self-isolate. Food handlers must also continue to observe exclusion from work if suffering from diarrhoea and/or vomiting until they have been symptom free for a minimum of 48 hours.
If you run a food business from home and any person in your household is self-isolating due to having symptoms, CONSIDERATION SHOULD BE GIVEN ON HOW THE FOOD WILL BE SOLD SAFELY until the isolation period is over for all members of the household.
Relevant staff must be provided with clear instructions on any infection control policy in place. 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.
The Government have issued COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses. 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. Make sure your staff check with customers when taking orders then you can 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.
We are hearing reports that some drivers are not being allowed to use welfare facilities when they deliver. Preventing access is against the law, equally it's not the sensible thing to do. Those who already provide reasonable access to toilets and handwashing facilities should continue to do so to enable delivery workers to stay safe.
Please contact the food safety team on 0300 303 8588 or email email@example.com should you need further advice or guidance we are here to help. For general food safety advice for businesses visit our Food Safety pages.
We have put together a series of posters for food businesses, some of which you may find useful to print and display in your premises.