Food businesses are facing many challenges at this time and the Food and Safety Team would like to support you.
Government guides for employers and food businesses
If you employ people, the guidance for employers and business will help you and your workers prevent the spread of COVID-19. You should also refer to the guidance for food businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19).
Reopening your business
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has created a checklist to support food businesses to reopen safely during COVID-19.
Changes to the way you work
If you’re changing to a takeaway or delivery service
You need to consider the additional food hygiene hazards that may be presented by operating as a takeaway. You will need to revise your current food safety management system (SFBB or HACCP) and put in place additional controls to have safe procedures in place for this activity. Read food delivery and takeaway guidance from the CiEH.
Do not let delivery drivers come into your business
If your business relies on delivery drivers, you should not be letting the drivers come into your business. This could increase the risk of cross contamination.
If you are still in contact with your customers
If contact with customers is necessary, reinforce the need to sanitise hands as soon as possible afterward and when returning to your business, to wash their hands thoroughly with hot water and soap. You should be using the right handwashing techniques.
Where possible, delivery staff should have minimal contact with staff preparing food and also customers. Use contactless payments or pre-payments wherever possible.
Arrange for orders to be left on doorsteps to avoid physical contact with the customers.
Advice on preventing the spread of coronavirus
There is no evidence to suggest that coronavirus is passed on through food. It can be passed on through:
- contact with infected people
- contact with surfaces touched by infected people, up to 3 days after
Food businesses should:
- keep good hygiene practices
- make sure employees wash their hands regularly
- cook food thoroughly
- keep food preparation areas and equipment clean
- use cleaning agents that are BS-EN 1276 or BS-EN 13697 compliant
For more guidance, read our advice on cleaning your food business.
In addition, follow the guidance issued by the government on social distancing to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
Food businesses operating as takeaway only
If you are already registered as a food business, you are permitted under your current food hygiene registration to operate as a food takeaway. However, you need to consider the additional food hygiene hazards that may be presented by operating as a takeaway only service.
You will need to revise your current food safety management system (SFBB or HACCP) and put in place additional controls to have safe procedures in place for this activity. The pages can be printed out here: Safer Food Better Business.
Advice for food business operators offering takeaways
- clean thoroughly with hot soapy water, and dry down, every hour of your business being open. Use a BS EN 1276 or 13697 approved sanitiser/cleaner to ensure you keep good hygiene standards
- ensure that foods that you are delivering are protected from contamination. This means making sure that they are adequately covered to prevent contamination in transit
- must clean and disinfect vehicles and bags used to store foods, so they’re fit for purpose
- make sure food is kept very hot until it is collected by the delivery driver or customer
- ensure food is kept hot until it arrives at the customer’s home – it is a good idea to use an insulated bag or box to transport food as harmful bacteria can grow in it.
- use a insulated bag or box to transport food will help keep it hot
Print out this advice poster to help remind everyone how to wash their hands.
Advice for delivery drivers
All drivers must have access to welfare facilities in the premises they visit as part of their work. Those who already provide reasonable access to toilets and handwashing facilities should continue to do so. With the latest advice for hands to be washed regularly, failure to allow access to welfare facilities may increase the risk of the COVID-19 infection spreading.
Do not let drivers come into your business, as this could increase the risk of cross contamination and doesn’t adhere to good social distancing.
For up to date information, see the government's advice for maintaining social distancing in specific food business settings.
Dealing with a member of staff in your business becoming ill
You should disinfect any equipment and areas where they have been working including all hand contact points throughout the premises (for example, taps, utensils, food equipment, soap dispensers, fridge handles, till points and telephones).
You need to:
- discard any ready to eat foods (that will not undergo any further cooking) that they have handled or prepared
- disinfectants only work effectively once grease or visible dirt has been removed from a surface – a detergent (hot soap and water with a clean cloth) can be used first to remove grease and dirt, followed by a second clean with a disinfectant; it is important that you leave the cleaning agent product on the surface for the time specified in the instructions
Delivery drivers should have minimum contact with food handlers in the kitchen. The food should be packed by the food handlers and the delivery bags or boxes to be left in a low risk area of the kitchen for collection. The driver must wash his hands with soap and warm water before and after making a food delivery.
Advice on supply chain problems due to COVID-19
It is likely there may be some disruption of the food supply chain as a result of the virus and therefore a shortage of some ingredients. Food businesses may be need to consider some of the following:
- reduce your menu
- leaving out or substituting ingredients in a product
- changing the packaging
- changing the process
In these situations, it is important that food businesses remember their legal obligations to only place safe food on the market (including consideration of allergen information given to customers). Any change to product, packaging or processing requires a full review of the business' food safety management system (HACCP or SFBB). This will allow them to:
- risk assess any food safety issues that could result from the proposed changes
- put in place controls to manage any risks identified
- document the changes
How to be prepared
- plan ahead
- only receive food ingredients that are in date and of a good quality
- stay on top of hygiene and cleaning in your premises
- make sure that you have good supplies of hand soap, hand drying materials and the right cleaning chemicals
- make sure that staff are using cleaning chemicals in accordance with instructions
- review your safe methods if there are any changes to your processes, for example if you start to offer food delivery, make sure you’ve thought about how you will make sure that the food will get to the customer in the same condition it left the premises, is kept hot and is clearly labelled for the customer
- work to your safe methods to produce food safely and continue with your everyday checks