As pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes are forced to close, businesses may look to change their operating model and diversify during this time.
The following advice is for those businesses looking to make provision for the takeaway and delivery of food, where they have not done so before. It should be used in conjunction with, and to supplement the business’ own food policy (Safer Food Better Business, or equivalent) and Public Health England guidance on Coronavirus (see below).
The Safer Food Better Business pack should be updated/enhanced to reflect the delivery service and how it will be offered safely.
Scientific advice is that it is very unlikely that COVID-19 can be spread via food, but, if you are changing how you ‘normally’ operate then you should think through the hazards and ensure that you have control measures in place.
You will only be in a position do this if you are registered as a food business with a Local Authority – see links below for further details.
Preparation and delivery 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 while they are being transported. They may need to be packed in an insulated box with a coolant gel or in a cool bag. Food should arrive with the customer at 8 Celsius or below.
If you are transporting hot food, it should be kept hot. It may need to be packed in an insulated box. It is recommended to keep distances short and times limited to within 30 minutes, packing cold and hot food separately. Hot food should arrive with the customer at 63 Celsius or above.
It is strongly suggested that the insulated box is made of a wipeable material i.e. plastic or similar, rather than cloth/fabric based as this will not be easy to sanitise on a regular basis. The insulated box should be sanitised (both internally and externally) at the start of the day before being used for carrying food and after deliveries, and also regularly throughout the day.
Cashless payments should be set up to avoid cash/change payment at the site of delivery – BACS, telephone or internet card payment, or similar is suggested.
Contact free delivery:
Limiting contact when delivering orders will help keep everyone healthy, so 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 as per Public Health guidance and wait for your customer to collect it. This is especially important where a customer is either in self-isolation or ill.
You must ensure you have a system in place to enable the customer to notify you of any self-isolation/illness in advance of delivering. Drivers should not enter the customers’ property in any circumstance.
Allergy information in Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) should be followed and a decision made whether any particular allergy requirement can be catered for or not.
Further details on allergen management can be found via the link below.
Use of delivery staff/vehicles
The delivery driver should be given a basic induction on handling the food correctly and health monitoring should be in place. Staff must be checked daily to ensure they aren’t showing any relevant Coronavirus symptoms (fever, persistent cough etc). If they start to show symptoms, they should be immediately sent home as per the self-isolation guidance.
The driver, where possible, should avoid coming into the main kitchen area and avoid excessive kitchen staff contact. It is suggested that one of the kitchen staff ‘box up’ the food and place in a low risk area ready for the driver to pick up and deliver. The driver should wash their hands with soap and water both on arrival and returning to the premises.
If you are planning on providing food which customers can collect from your premises, much of the guidance above still applies. You should encourage non-cash payments, with telephone, BACS or contactless payments being preferable.
You should also designate a low risk area for hand-over of the food. This should be well away from the kitchen area and at a distance from as many staff as possible. Staff handing over the food should place the food down and keep a sensible distance from the customer. This area should regularly be sanitised throughout the day and staff should wash their hands after each handover.
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.’ ‘https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/distance-selling-mail-order-and-delivery.
Safer Food Better Business Pack: https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/safer-food-better-business
Public Health England guidance on Coronavirus, including links to the package of support available to businesses: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19
The Business Growth Hub has developed a range of free resources and advice to support businesses, including webinars listed below – www.businessgrowthhub.com/coronovirus
- Duty of care to employees
- Cash flow and supply chain challenges
- How to work and operate virtually
- Legal and insurance implications
In Stockport, register your food business here: https://www.stockport.gov.uk/start/apply-for-registration-of-a-food-business-establishment