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Guidance switching to takeaway or collection.

Thanks to everyone that joined our new weekly Coronavirus Recovery Plan Webinar this week where we spoke about how restaurants, cafes, bars and similar businesses can move over to a new model of catering by offering existing and potentially new customers a delivery and/or takeaway service.

Every type of catering business will be slightly different in regard to size and complexity. You will need to complete a risk assessment and implement control measures, these will differ slightly for every site.

The below information will help you with your assessments and your decisions about which control measures will be required. Don`t forget that if you operate multiple sites then risk assessment and subsequent control measures will need to be specific to each site and won’t necessarily be the same.

Please remember that under The Health and Safety At Work Act you have a responsibility for health and safety of your staff but also anyone affected by your business operations – in other words, your customers, visitors and others such as contractors and delivery drivers.

Before we start, a very quick health and safety lesson in regard to risk assessment.

Risk assessments are a measure of levels of risk. Risk can be defined as: The likelihood that something will occur multiplied the severity of harm/illness/damage caused. (also consider how many people could be harmed here).

Bearing this in mind, if someone contracts Covid-19, then the worst-case scenario in regard to severity is death! This might sound dramatic but it`s true, no one can say what the outcome will be if someone contracts the disease, therefore we must do everything that is reasonably practicable in order to control risk.

Businesses must aim to control the two factors that can be controlled i.e. the likelihood of harm occurring and the number of staff/customers/others who could be affected.

Below are some ideas in bullet point form to be discussed and considered as part of your risk assessment process.

Robust preparation and planning

The most important stage, things to consider.

  • Understand the hazard (Covid-19) and how it is spread and transmitted
  • Understand the fact that people can be ill straight away. Perhaps ill but not showing symptoms for several days. People can also be healthy carriers, in other words they carry the pathogen but never become ill themselves although they are capable of spreading the pathogen just the same as an asymptomatic person.
  • Understand how the virus can be breathed in or enter the body through mucous membranes, mouth, nose and eyes
  • Understand that coughing, sneezing, shouting, talking and breathing in close proximity are all routes of transmission.
  • Understand that peoples hands are the worst culprit when it comes to moving contamination/infection around. Handwashing is key.
  • Understand that any surface or object can be a “vehicle” in regard to spreading the infection around.
  • Think about every single item or surface that you touch day to day.
  • Understand that it has been proven that coronavirus can survive on certain metals and plastics for up to 72 hours and cardboard for up to 24 hours.
  • Once the nature of the hazard and the risks are fully understood, we can now start deciding on the best ways to eliminate, reduce and mitigate the risks through the control measures we implement.
  • Now make sure that your staff understand everything stated above, training will be critical.
  • Staff now have much more to think about – Food safety, Health and safety, Infection control, Allergen control. Ensure every member of staff has undertaken a level of training commensurate with the type of activities they will be involved in and the responsibilities they have been given.
  • Management and supervisors will need higher levels of knowledge in order to be effective.

 

Your food safety management system, HACCP and your catering model

  • Your catering model is changing, therefore, you will be required to inform the local authority of this change
  • In regard to HACCP, new critical control points will need to be considered. For example, you may have previously cooked food then served it immediately, however, now you may be batch cooking large amounts of food in advance, cooling it down for chilled or frozen storage and subsequent reheating prior to delivery or takeaway.
  • You will now require new extra monitoring record sheets to reflect how you now prepare food, you should also keep a monitoring sheet to show how you protect food in transit if you offer a delivery service
  • Staff will need to understand all new procedures and methodology, your staff will require training, that includes everyone who has some input into the journey of the food, from the kitchen porter, managers and supervisors, line chefs, serving staff through to your delivery staff.
  • Roles and responsibilities – does everyone know what their role and responsibilities are?
  • High levels of supervision and micromanagement will be required to ensure safety because everything we do will be reliant on human behaviour which can be the most difficult thing to control.
  • Safe procedures and systems for working will be required, these should be written down, communicated effectively these will need to be quite rigid with little room for manoeuvre, to ensure mistakes or bad decisions are not made.
  • Evidence of training and written safe methods of working will support a due diligence defence should things go wrong and harm is caused, ensure these records are robust.

 

Delivery – What to consider

  • Consider what geographical area you will cover for delivery, I recommend no further than 30 minutes of transit time from kitchen to customer.
  • Look at your primary food packaging which must be approved and safe for food use in regard to the type and temperature of food contained within it.
  • How will you transport food both hot and cold maintaining safe temperatures in transit –  use of insulated bags/containers?
  • How and when will these be cleaned and sanitised?
  • What about the ice packs – cleaning and sanitising?
  • How will you hold and transport allergen-free dishes safely?
  • How will allergen information be given to the customer – website, menus, labelling, handover?
  • If your food is for immediate consumption then that’s fairly straightforward, but what if your food is raw to be cooked or precooked and cooled ready for reheating? In this case, you will need to speak to the local authority as there will be extra measures required in regard to packaging and labelling.
  • Staff PPE both during food prep and delivery.
  • Hand sanitiser (> 60% alcohol) for delivery staff.
  • Social distancing during handover.
  • How will the customer pay? Eealistically this needs to be online/app/phone. The second choice is chip and pin but you need to think about distancing and sanitising handheld unit before and after.

 

Takeaway/collection – What to consider

  • Many of the same measures previously mentioned for delivery will be applicable.
  • Take payments online/app/phone, second choice chip and pin (not ideal)
  • Allocate a time slot for customer, discourage customers to turn up early
  • Customers outside until order is ready, one in one out, this will need to be supervised
  • Sanitiser available at the door, compulsory for each customer to use
  • Signage (Large/highly visible) stating the procedure for collection
  • Mark out spacing by 2 metres outside premises, supervise this robustly
  • Plexiglass at serving areas, procedure for handover similar to parcel delivery
  • Orders placed in disposable carrier bags
  • Serving staff wear PPE gloves and faceshields during handover
  • Clean and sanitise handover area after every customer

 

Your website

  • Ensure that payment system has been implemented.
  • Ensure that your food offering is compatible with a delivery model in regards to food safety.
  • Ensure your allergen matrix is up to date, do not deviate from set menus, ensure allergens contained in all items have been communicated to your customer effectively e.g. condiments, sauces, side dishes, beverages etc.
  • Have provision within the website that customers who are ill, self isolating or in quarantine can indicate this fact, extra vigilance and measures may be required
  • Have a set of “safety rules” that the customer must read before order can be processed, this states the procedures and protocols required during delivery/takeaway.

 

I hope this information helps anyone thinking of changing their model either temporarily or permanently.

Remember, that the preparation and the planning stage is the most important and critical to avoiding future problems.

Good luck.

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