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Food Safety during a changing business model

This guidance is designed to support businesses that prepare, serve and sell food in identifying how they can adapt or change business as usual. It applies to any shop, café, hotel, restaurant, bar or mobile unit that ordinarily serves meals or drink for consumption on or off the premises.

With the increase in takeaway and food delivery due to COVID-19, the Government of Jersey is urging food businesses to take extra care when it comes to food handling.

All businesses operating at the current time are required to follow the Advice for business during Level 3. This includes generic guidelines that all business should follow as well as sector specific advice for the Food and drink sector.

Outdoor seated food service

Food vans, trailers and carts

Takeaway and food deliveries

Building alterations

Preparing to re-open

Overarching principles

Working in kitchens

Physical distancing guidelines have to be followed at every stage of food production. This includes supplier delivery, food preparation and service. The 2 metre distance between all individuals associated with your business must be kept.

Many of our island's kitchens are small. In times of physical distancing this makes it difficult for usual staffing levels to be maintained. The maximum permitted levels of staffing within the kitchen is that which prevents staff from coming within 2 metres of one another.

You must assess how many members of staff can safely undertake their work, whilst meeting the requirements of physical distancing. This can include separation by area or by time. You must also assess how reduction in staffing may impact on food safety.

Restaurants may consider using areas previously used as customer areas for certain aspects of food preparation.

Do not prepare and handle food if you're feeling unwell

If you or an employee are feeling unwell, don't handle or prepare food for the public.

Self-isolation may be required. You may be entitled to sickness benefit if you're self-isolating due to covid-19 symptoms.

Sickness benefit if you're self-isolating due to coronavirus.

Wash your hands, maintain personal hygiene

This is more important than ever, especially for anyone working to prepare meals for the public. Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly and maintain good personal hygiene.

Ensure hand-washing facilities have a constant supply of warm running water, soap and single use paper towel at all times.

Find more information on handwashing and other COVID-19 health information.

Hands should be washed:

  • On arrival at work
  • On entering any service area
  • Before handling any food
  • After touching anything that customers, staff or delivery drivers may have contaminated
  • After touching hand contact surfaces such as handrails, door handles, light switches
  • Always after using the toilet or going into the toilet areas
  • After touching your face, sneezing or coughing
  • In between all tasks
  • After smoking
  • After handling and opening packaging, money, receipts, and cleaning supplies
  • After removing gloves and aprons and before putting on new ones
  • Any time your hands are contaminated
  • After touching rubbish
  • Regularly

Cook food thoroughly

Ensure food is cooked thoroughly, which means reaching a core food temperature of 75°C or above and/or ensuring juices run clear. Read more tips on cooking food thoroughly on the gov.uk website.

Cleaning and sanitising

Normal cleaning and sanitation measures will minimize risk of infection. Keep your food premises clean at all times during operation. Sanitizing food contact surfaces is also crucial in ensuring germs aren't spread. Where possible, use your dishwasher for all food contact items. More information on cleaning your kitchen on the gov.uk.

Make sure you're using a sanitiser that is compatible with food safety and ensure that you're following the application instructions on contact time to make sure it works properly.

Staffing levels

One of the major health risks associated with any change in staffing numbers, style of operation, increased demands in a kitchen is that of food poisoning. The most recent UK study found that 35% of cases of norovirus could be linked back to poor hygiene practices within the catering industry.

Know your staff. An employee that won't be paid if they don't work is less likely to adhere to the requirement to self-isolate. What steps do you take to ensure the fitness to work of your employees? Will you be taking temperatures before allowing them to work their shift?

If you change your process to one that, for example, requires a blast chiller and you have neither a blast chiller and / or the appropriately trained staff to use this, then this process can't go ahead.

Maintaining food hygiene during reduced staffing and/or change of operation

During the outbreak staffing levels are likely to reduce due to illness or self-isolation and protection of employees if they have underlying health concerns or are pregnant.

It is unlikely you'll be able to maintain current production levels safely as these conditions arise. It is therefore essential to consider what you'll do to maintain food hygiene during this time.

Top tips:

  • Reduce the size of your menu
  • Limit the number of meals you can serve to a level that remains safe
  • Remove more complex meals
  • Replace raw with ready cooked
  • Replace food needs preparation with ready prepared food
Before considering any measures, you must consider whether you have sufficient available staff to meet the safety requirements for your employees and customers.

Many of the techniques used for preventing cross contamination of food by unwell employees or members of the public remains the same. However, all businesses must assess how this is controlled during this outbreak.

Laundry

Uniforms are a potential source of transmission. Ensure staff wear clean uniforms at all times. All uniforms must be washed at temperatures at 60°C or higher, or use a laundry sanitising agent if the fabrics can't be washed at high temperatures. It is recommended as standard practice in food businesses that uniforms are laundered commercially.

If you're unable to wash items immediately, leave in a sealed bag for at least three days and wash as normal.

You may need to invest in new uniforms if you're unable to follow this advice. Where staff are washing their uniforms at home, they should ensure they are washed and stored separately from other household laundry.

Hot holding food safely

Keeping food warm for prolonged periods of time is dangerous and could lead to food poisoning. It is best to cook food and then send out for delivery straight away. If this is not possible then the food will have to be hot held.

Storing food at warm temperatures for a prolonged period of time can lead to food poisoning. Food must be cooled down to room temperature as quickly as possible then refrigerated (maximum 90 minutes from start to finish) or kept hot at 63°C. More information on keeping food hot can be accessed on the gov.uk website.

Cooling down potentially hazardous foods rapidly

Any food you cook and cool down for later use must be cooled as quickly as possible. Cool food faster by portioning into small quantities, using shallow trays, using ice or better still using a blast chiller. More information on cooling methods on the gov.uk website.

Allergen requests

When an order is placed either online or on the phone you must ask the customer if they have any allergies. If you can't cater for a customer with specific allergic requirements you must say, do not guess or take chances with allergies as this could lead to serious consequences. More information on managing allergens in your business on the gov.uk website.

Labelling of "cook at home food"

Meals that are cooked and cooled by the food business and then re-heated by the customer must be carried out safely.

The product must be labelled by the food business and contain the following:

  • Product
  • List of ingredients
  • Name of company that prepared it
  • Instructions for storage / cooking
  • Use by date

A label on the food item must indicate to the customer that this food should only be re-heated once and to which temperature. The label should also dictate storage instructions and food durability.

'Help yourself' areas

Some establishments provide service through salad bars, hot hold and cold pastry areas and similar, for example bread decanters with tongues.
These areas must be suspended during the outbreak due to the following factors:

  • Hand contact with produce / tongs increases the risk of cross contamination
  • The food is more prone to being coughed or sneezed on
  • The recommended 2 metre separation becomes increasingly difficult to manage due to increased customer time at these areas

Bring your own

Cancel 'bring your own' options such as coffee mugs and food containers. Those businesses that depend on this style of service must consider short term alternatives. 

Pre-prepared items for use at home

If using a vac Pac, you must prevent potential cross contamination between raw and ready to eat product. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and if you can't safely separate choose to use it for either raw or ready to eat product.

Label the product correctly:

  • What it is, including allergens
  • Company name
  • Storage instructions
  • Use-by date (extended if the product is vac pac'd)

When to consumer once opened.

Allergens

Consider whether use of a vac pac will introduce cross contamination of allergens and how you control this.

Deliveries

Payment

All meals must be pre-paid for in advance to avoid contact with the delivery driver.

When placing the order, the customer should state a safe place for the meal to be left and a number to ring to alert the customer that the food has arrived.

Allergen or intolerance requests 

We encourage you to make it simple and obvious for those suffering with allergies or intolerances to tell you about them. Some sample wording for your web page or social media might be:

Before ordering, speak to a member of staff if you have any food allergies or intolerances.

When an order is placed either online or on the phone you must ask the customer if they have any allergies or intolerances. If they do, make a record of their requirements. Ensure this is clearly communicated to kitchen staff to ensure the specific ingredient is avoided.

Ensure you clearly label the allergy sufferer's meal. During delivery meals prepared for the allergenic customers should be stored separately to prevent cross contamination.

If you can't cater for a customer with specific allergic requirements you must say.

Do not guess or take chances with allergies as this could lead to serious consequences, including death of the customer. More information on managing allergens in your business on the gov.uk website.

Delivery

The delivery driver should not accept tips during this time of infectious disease.

The delivery vehicle must be clean and free from any other items that could potentially contaminate the food.

The delivery driver should be the only person in the vehicle, to support physical distancing.

The vehicle must have the appropriate insurance for business use.

Smoking is not permitted within any delivery vehicle during business use.

Remember that delivery drivers are food handlers and should therefore be given basic induction on safe food handling.

Drivers must wash hands or sanitise before and after collection as they could cross contaminate between the meal provider and customer. It is the business's responsibility to provide the driver with hand sanitiser with an alcohol content of at least 60+%.

The meal should be left in the safe place as stated on the order. The delivery driver may then contact the customer to advise the order has been delivered.

Physical distancing must be ensured between delivery drivers when awaiting food for a delivery.

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