One of the most important priorities for food businesses reopening in the coming weeks and months will be to ensure complete safety of their customers and employees.
As mentioned in The Caterer, the NPD group found that 63% of British consumers will return to restaurants and cafes the month after lockdown ends, but trust in hygiene and social distancing will be key. The FSA have released their checklist to ensure that businesses can begin to reopen safely after a period of inactivity.
You can access the full FSA Reopening checklist for food businesses during COVID-19 here. And we’ve got a breakdown of the information in the checklist for you:
Preparation for reopening
- You must alert your local authority when you intend to restart operations and the changes to business operations such as the introduction of any new takeaway or delivery services.
- Food safety management systems must be updated for any new procedures you have to implement due to COVID-19, such as risks to food safety, reviewing new procedures such as allergen management and takeaway/delivery services as well as cross-contamination risks and ensuring safe packaging.
- You must ensure you have the correct equipment, facilities and staff who are well and able to work.
- Assess whether you can carry out a full deep clean or if a professional deep clean is required. The cleanliness and maintaining the cleanliness of your site is vital so ensure you have suitable cleaning and disinfection consumables.
- You must ensure surfaces, utensils and equipment are completely clean and disinfected as well ensuring areas are free from pest activity. You must make sure you have enough hand washing and cleaning materials available such as soap, hand sanitizer and paper towels and that there is hot and cold running water available at all sinks and washbasins.
- Read up on the risks of Legionella and take action to reduce any risk if needed.
- All equipment must be thoroughly cleaned before reopening, it is important to pay attention to cleaning fridges, chilled display equipment, freezers and ovens and reviewing whether equipment requires maintenance is vital.
- Ensure you have removed and replenished ice left in machines and dispensers.
- Run dishwashers and glass washers on a hot cycle before use.
Social Distancing Measures
- Consider how you will communicate with and train your staff to enable your new procedures.
- Ensure you have read and understand the government advice on social distancing and working safely during COVID-19. Government advice on social distancing can be found in this guide all relating to the objective of maintaining 2 metre social distancing, including travel to and from work, whilst at work and travelling between sites.
- Request staff change into work uniforms on site using appropriate changing facilities.
- Consider steps to minimise interaction between staff and customers. Wherever you can, provide 2 metre social distancing and increase ventilation where possible without incurring any risks or hazard to food safety and hygiene. Provide more entry points to premises to reduce congestion, try to use a ‘one way’ traffic flow and utilise floor markings to signal 2 metre distances.
- Allow kitchen access to a few people as possible and put teams into shifts to restrict the number of workers interacting with one another.
Ingredient & Product Checks
- Be sure to check for damage to packaging that could impact food safety or result in loss of allergen information and check all use by, best before and consume within dates on all fresh and frozen foods.
- Ensure storage of food has been in-line with the manufacturers instructions for example checking any opened or unsealed products have been stored in line with ‘once opened consume within’ instructions.
- Confirm that you can obtain your usual raw materials and ingredients so that product specifications are met.
- Allergen information must be accurate and available for all products to ensure customer safety by law. Ensure your staff are trained to handle allergens and you have the correct process in place to manage allergens within your kitchen.
- For caterers already using Erudus our Allergen & Nutritional Data Search means you can carefully curate your menus and gives you access to legally required up to date information regarding your products. Erudus product data can be instantly accessed by you and your employees, so you can guarantee your customers know exactly what is in the food they’ll be eating.
- It is important to review allergen management systems, allergen matrices and menus to account for any changes such as ingredients or suppliers. As a subscriber of Erudus our Recipe Builder allows you to create an allergen matrix for an entire menu and can be viewed at a glance so you can confidently inform your customers of the presence of any of the major 14 allergens in your recipes. You can also customise any possible cross contamination risks to suit your menu.
The Erudus Recipe Builder Tool auto-populates an Allergen Matrix based on the recipe’s ingredients
The Erudus Recipe Builder Tool allows a user to enter custom allergy information to highlight and manage cross-contamination risk
- You must review takeaway and delivery services to ensure risk of allergen cross contamination is managed – we have a list of golden rules to help you minimise risks of cross-contamination here.
- In order to prevent any fatalities, it’s important that allergen information is available to customers at the time of ordering at delivery of food. Offering a space for customers to input any allergen information is beneficial so care can be taken with those orders.
By planning ahead and following the government guidelines for reopening food businesses and ensuring correct cleaning and social distancing measures are implemented we can work to keep our customers and employees safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 to ensure that as an industry, we bounce back safely and securely.