Thanet District Council – Public Protection Team
Advice for food businesses continuing to trade as ‘take-away’ during the coronavirus pandemic.
This guide is a response to requests from local food businesses for advice as a result of the current coronavirus crisis (COVID-19). Although closing their front doors, many are trying to continue serving their customers by providing hot and cold food deliveries.
The pointers below should help you do this if takeaway services are new to you. The government recently announced a temporary relaxation on planning rules for takeaways during the pandemic.
The advice is intended for established businesses changing their operation – new businesses should not operate unless registered as a food business and inspected.
Scientific advice is currently that COVID-19 is passed from person to person not via food. Your hygiene standards are still critical. In addition to the safe methods you already have in place, you need to think through additional controls for collection / delivery and infection control to ensure your food handlers and customers stay safe.
Preparation and packaging
All food must be protected against contamination and safe for customers
High risk ready to eat (RTE) foods must be kept covered using lidded containers or cellophane/aluminium foil tightly wrapped over the plate/bowl of food. Please only use food grade disposable containers. Raw foods, if any, is to be completely segregated from RTE foods.
Vehicles and containers used for deliveries must be maintained in good condition and clean,. If packaged foods are delivered in outer containers (insulated boxes/trays/boxes etc), these must be cleaned and disinfected between deliveries.
Hot foods must be checked to ensure they reach safe temperatures on cooking/reheating (above 75C) and be hot (above 63C) at time of dispatch. Such foods must be delivered in insulated containers to maintain temperatures and should reach the customer as soon as possible, ideally within 30 minutes but no longer than 2 hours.
High risk cold foods must be below 8C (ideally below 5C) at time of dispatch and should be delivered as soon as possible, ideally within 30 minutes but no longer than 2 hours. The use of insulated containers is advisable.
Any returned containers must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to re-use. Upon collection, such returned items should be placed in a dedicated tray/box for transport back to the business premises. The use of reusable containers is not advised at this time.
Advice for food handlers making deliveries or dealing with collections
Food handlers must practice the highest standards of personal hygiene at all times. After each delivery, hands must be sanitised on return to the vehicle and thoroughly cleaned on return to the business premises. Do not enter customers’ properties and keep as far away as possible when handing over the food. Ideally knock, place on doorstep and step back leaving customer to pick up. If at all possible payment should be collected over the phone, contactless card or via internet ordering. If this is not possible, delivery staff must sanitise their hands.
If food is sold at a distance (e.g. internet sales or home delivery), the allergen information must be provided:
before the purchase of the food is complete (this could be in writing or verbally)
in a written format when the food is delivered.
Additional information on allergens can be accessed through the FSA.
You must make sure food handlers are fit for work under the food hygiene regulations. In addition you have a general duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of persons in your employment and members of the public.
Food handlers and delivery teams must be given clear instructions on any infection controls.
The government has issued guidance on COVID-19 for employees and businesses. This will be updated however, that guidance is not currently specific for food businesses.
Customers who have been asked to self-isolate, may order by phone or online. Check when taking orders that you run through some health checks – they may be at home self isolating or recovering from COVID-19.
Make sure delivery drivers know if they are delivering to a person with symptoms of COVID-19.
Maintaining Social Distancing
Where physical ordering points exist and people are able to collect food in person from your premises you should ensure that social distancing rules are being adhered to as much as possible. Ways you could achieve this are:
Only allowing one person to order/collect at a time ensuring others keep a distance of more than 2 meters away.
Only using contactless payment services to reduce the distance between customers and employees. Carry out regular cleaning and disinfection of hand contact areas and surfaces including payment devices and tills.
Restrict the number of people allowed inside the premises at any one time.