Top food safety tips on changing your food business to takeaway or delivery during Covid 19

If you own or manage a cafe/restaurant/pub until a few months ago your place was probably buzzing with customers. Due to Covid 19 business closures the doors may now be shut and the car park empty until the magic re opening date is announced. You may have thought about doing takeaway or deliveries but not taken the plunge. Or you may be doing this but just need some advice to check you are doing things properly.

Takeaway innovation

I have spoken to many food businesses who have successfully changed what they do. Now customers can order almost anything they can think of to eat for pick up or delivery. Business are trying to survive this terrible epidemic by keeping loyal customers and hopefully attracting new ones. From traditional pizza, Chinese, Indian and Fish and Chips to Sunday Roast, gourmet burgers, BBQs, and breakfasts.

Mealtimes have become very important in lockdown and is the high point of many people’s day. If we can’t go out for a meal then let the food come to us, anything to break up what feels like ‘Groundhog day’!

What must I do?

Contact your Local Authority

Let your Local Environmental Health department know  what changes you are making and when they will start- usually and email will be sufficient

Update your Food Safety Management or HACCP system

Remember you must write down the food safety risks in your business and think about what can go wrong during delivery or takeaway:

  •  Fill in the relevant sections of the safe methods in SFBB or add in a delivery and/or transport step to your existing system.
  • Consider temperature control but remember that if you deliver within a small area, for example within 30 minutes of your premises, then you could use the  2 hour rule. This means you can keep hot food out of temperature for this time while it is being delivered. It is a good idea to take and record a temperature of the food before sending it out for delivery. This is to prove it was at the right temperature before it left your premises.
  • Remember to do hot food checks and write them down. Make sure food is cooked to 75C or above, especially high risk food like chicken.
  • If possible cook food to order but if you do need to hot hold the food must be kept above 63C. If not it can only be held below this temperature for 2 hours (including the delivery time). Deliver food in insulated boxes or bags to keep the food hot.
  • Think about how food could become contaminated during delivery from packaging, staff and vehicles. Remember all packaging must be food grade.

Food for allergy sufferers

  • If customers are ordering off a website or over the phone you must provide allergen information upfront before they order.
  •  Label the food for an allergy sufferer being delivered or collected, for example, ‘no peanuts.’

Cleaning and handwashing

  • Make sure staff wash their hands more frequently for 20 seconds with hot water, soap and dry with disposable towels. Provide hand sanitiser for staff to use including delivery drivers but remember this is not a substitute for hand washing
  • Clean hand contact surfaces more frequently with a disinfectant, including fridge door handles, push plates and taps
  • Encourage contactless payments to avoid staff and drivers having to handle cash.

Covid 19 Risk Assessment

Finally put in place social distancing measures and complete a risk assessment. (I will give you some tips on how to put a simple Covid 19 risk assessment together in my next blog)

For more information read the Food Delivery and Takeaway Guidance from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health


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