Shropshire Council

Take away advice for existing food businesses

Offering a takeaway meal service

As a result of changes to working practices due to coronavirus (Covid-19), you may be considering starting a meals delivery service or takeaway for your existing food business.  If you intend to do this, you must ensure that you consider the food safety risks and how these will be managed. 

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health have produced some detailed guidance on Food Takeaways and Delivery to assist you.

If you wish to provide ready meals/food to be reheated by the customer, please contact the Health Protection Team urgently at food@shropshire.gov.uk or 0345 678 9067 as your food operation will need to be discussed on a case by case basis.

If you have started doing hot food takeaway (i.e. cooking food fresh and providing to the customer hot straight away) which is different to your normal food business please let us know via email food@shropshire.gov.uk

The below guidance is only for businesses who wish to serve hot food takeaways cooked fresh and provided hot immediately as a takeaway meal to the customer. 

Customers should only order online or by telephone only not in person at the premises.

You should consider what checks you need to put in place and how these will be recorded.  Staff will also need to be trained in the new process.

In addition to your normal food safety procedures on food production, you must also ensure that food is kept hot until it is served or delivered to the customer, to prevent harmful bacteria from growing.  Some of the significant points are outlined below to assist you in managing the food safety hazards.

Temperature

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 e.g. salad garnish must be kept cool while they are being transported; between 1°C and 8°C.  This may need to be packed in an insulated container with ice blocks or coolant gel.

Once food is cooked and intended to be served hot, you must keep the food at 63°C or above until it is served.  (Your choice of packaging will help in this regard.)  Food that has fallen below 63°C, or has not been used within two hours, should be reheated until it is steaming hot and served immediately.

Further guidance on hot holding and delivery can be found here.

The ‘Prove it’ and 'Prove it - Records' sections of SFBB should be completed which details how you intend to meet the requirements outlined above.  You should also consider what additional checks you need to put in place and how these will be recorded.  Staff must be trained accordingly and, initially supervised, to ensure they understand and follow the new process.

Allergens

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health have provided useful guidance on allergens and takeaways.  It is as follows:

If you have a website or other forms of advertising, you must clearly communicate that customers should ask about allergies and intolerances when they order. Here is some sample wording you can use for this purpose: Before ordering, please speak to a member of staff if you have any food allergies or intolerances.

When customers telephone to place an order, you should ask them if they or any of their party have any allergies or intolerances. If they do, make a record of their requirements. Ensure you communicate this clearly to kitchen staff to ensure the specific allergenic ingredient is avoided as well as ensuring food is prepared safely by avoiding cross contact. Ensure you clearly label the allergy sufferer’s meal, identifying their individual food items to avoid mistakes on delivery and unpacking by the customer. During delivery, food prepared for allergenic customers should be stored separately to avoid any cross contact.

If you are unable to put in place safe procedures to prepare meals for allergy sufferers, you MUST NOT offer or serve allergy-free food to customers until you are confident you can prepare those dishes safely. Remember, allergic reactions to ingredients can be fatal.

Please ensure that you and your staff are familiar with the full list of 14 allergens. For more information and advice about allergies, visit: www.food.gov.uk/allergy . You can identify allergens using the matrix available from the Food Standards Agency (FSA). It is important to ensure that any menu changes are reflected in your allergen matrix or chef’s recipe cards, and this should be reviewed whenever there is a change in menu and or recipe.

If you have not done so already, now is a great time to do some free training on allergens for all your key staff. 

Food packaging

What are the requirements for food packaging?  Appropriate packaging must be used to pack and store food to maintain its safety, durability and quality.  For example; some ingredients will degrade if exposed to moisture or light and their shelf life will be reduced.

Food contact materials (FCM) can also be a source of contamination, as chemicals can migrate from materials into the food they come into contact with.  FCM includes packaging, storage containers, food manufacturing equipment, even household kitchen equipment and utensils.  Regulation (EC) No. 1935/2004 states food contact materials must not endanger the safety of the food nor adversely affect the composition or taste of the food.  It also provides requirements regarding FCM labelling and traceability which applies to businesses throughout the supply chain, including food brokers. 

Packaging wrappers

If you wrap or package food as part of your business, then you must:

  • use material that will not be a source of contamination for wrapping and packaging
  • store wrapping materials so they are not at risk of contamination
  • wrap and package the food in a way that avoids contamination of products
  • make sure that any containers are clean and not damaged, particularly if you use cans or glass jars
  • be able to keep the wrapping or packaging material clean

Transporting food

If you are a movable, temporary or domestic business, you must be aware of the requirements that apply to you and your business. When you transport food, you must prevent it from becoming contaminated.  Vehicles and containers used to transport food must be:

  • kept clean and in good condition
  • protected in a way to minimise contamination
  • capable of keeping food at the right temperature
  • able to check food temperatures where necessary

When transporting, you must separate different to prevent cross contamination by bacteria and allergens. Food can also become contaminated if vehicles and containers are not cleaned.

See the Food Standards Agency guide on food delivery.

Protecting delivery staff and social-distancing

Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading.  There are general principles you can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • washing your hands more often - with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser when you get home or into work, when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid close contact with people who have symptoms
  • cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the working/delivery environment; e.g. vehicle controls, steering wheel, door handles.

Delivery practices should be developed to eliminate or minimise personal contact with all service users, but especially those who may be displaying signs and symptoms of any illness.  Limiting contact when delivering orders is imperative.  Consider leaving deliveries at the door rather than handing to the service user.  Adequate hand cleaning measures (and personal protective equipment) must be available to delivery staff.  Avoid cash payments.  For more information see the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health guidance.

If customers are coming to your business to collect orders you should give them staggered collection times.  It is recommended they are allowed in one at a time and use cashless methods of payment.  You will need ensure social distancing is maintained for customers waiting for food orders.

Further information