Coronavirus: Food businesses
- Food Standards Scotland (FSS) have published guidance intended for Food Business Operators and their employees which aims to offer support surrounding the implementation of physical (social) distancing measures in food manufacturing and processing premises, as well as other mitigation measures that will assist in adhering to government guidance for preventing the spread of COVID-19. FSS also offer information on Frequently Asked Questions tailored to both consumers and businesses.
- The Health and Safety Executive have also issued information and advice relevant to both employees and employers.
Environmental Health Regulatory Services are aware of the difficulties that food businesses are presented with during the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact that this will be having on trade. It is understood that, in response, many food businesses are now considering acting as takeaway and delivery businesses in the immediate term, to continue trading. In this situation we would offer the following advice, to ensure that you continue to operate safely and that the food you are producing remains safe.
If you are altering your menu and adapting what your producing, you will need to consider if the new dishes present additional hazards and ensure effective food safety controls are implemented. Your Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) should be updated to reflect any changes.
- Ensure all food handlers including delivery staff are following correct handwashing and personal hygiene procedures. The current advice relating to transmission of the virus in food, food handling considerations and some helpful hand hygiene guidance can be found on Food Standards Scotland website.
- Any food handlers with suspected or confirmed coronavirus COVID-19 symptoms should be excluded from work and follow government guidance on self-isolation.
For all food deliveries, you need to consider how you will carry this out and ensure some general hygiene controls. For example, ensure the delivery vehicle is clean and tidy, ensure you can prevent potential cross-contamination of food (e.g. food is sealed and raw/ready to eat food is separated) and temperature control is maintained. Ensure all packaging used for foodstuffs are suitable for that purpose and made of foodgrade materials. Look for the 'glass and fork' logo.
Utilise contactless and remote payment as far as possible. If it is necessary to handle cash, have this left at a distance in an envelope and collect as the customer retreats, thus ensuring the 2 metre rule is observed at all stages. Change should be given in the same way but avoid this where at all possible.
Whether you are going to be selling hot or cold foods, you must ensure maintenance of the hot or cold chain. This is a critical point and businesses are advised to monitor and record delivery temperatures as part of their food safety system, to demonstrate your control. This can be a diary log or simple check sheet but ensure that the staff involved understand the process and the required temperatures including what to do if these temperatures are out with limits.
- Hot food must be hot held at 63oC or above. To ensure this will be maintained, you can use insulated bags or boxes.
- Cold food should ideally be kept at fridge temperatures below 8oC. Again, cool bags and boxes can be used with the addition of ice packs
- It is also advised to limit the length of delivery times. For example, limit the number of 'drop off's' in one run.
- Businesses should consider methods of delivery which do not include person-to-person contact, for example; drop off at doorstep and card payments only.
However, you are selling food to consumers, it is a legal requirement to provide accurate information on the allergens present in the food. If food is sold through distance selling, for example through a telephone or online order for a takeaway/delivery, allergen information must be provided at two stages in the process. This means providing it:
- before the purchase of the food is completed - this could be in writing (for example on a website, catalogue or menu) or orally (for example by phone)
- when the food is delivered - this could be in writing (for example on allergen stickers on food or enclosed hard copy of menu) or orally (for example by phone).
The allergen information should be available to a customer in a written form at some point between a customer placing the order and taking delivery of it. Label takeaway meals clearly, so your customers know which dishes are suitable for those with an allergy.