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Chef in a restaurant kitchen cleaning as part of food safety and hygiene regulations

Food safety advice for businesses during Coronavirus outbreak

by Gemma Melling

As a result of the Government’s recent measures many businesses have had to temporarily close, and continue to do so with ‘lockdown’ extended. However, some food businesses are continuing to trade during the outbreak and it is important that they have excellent controls in place to protect staff and customers. Managers must train staff on the new rules and ensure they are followed.

Cllr Shelley Powell, Cabinet Member for Communities & Neighbourhoods said “In Knowsley we always enforce strict measures to ensure the safety of our residents and businesses. In this current climate we remind business owners of these measures and continue to stress the importance of strict food safety. Food businesses are providing an important service to many members of the borough, so we ask them to join us in keeping our residents as safe as possible.”

These extra controls and procedures include the following:

Staff illness and return to work

Staff must not come into work and must self-isolate if they show symptoms of coronavirus or have close contacts with the illness. Managers must make this clear to staff and ensure the rules are followed. Follow the instructions on the gov.uk website.

Social distancing

The social distancing rules must be observed for staff and customers, even in your business premises. If you cannot apply the social distancing rules to your business, then you should not trade. Follow the instructions on the gov.uk website.

Personal hygiene

Regular and thorough handwashing with warm water, soap and disposable paper towels is essential.

Also:

  • Do not use fabric towels.
  • Ensure paper towels are in a dispenser and not loose.
  • Gloves can be worn as an extra control but do not replace hand washing. They must be changed regularly. Staff can become complacent when wearing gloves so this must be monitored.
  • Alcohol/sanitiser gel must never replace hand washing and is only ever an additional control.
  • Ensure that delivery drivers are also trained on the above.
  • Ensure that food handlers wear clean overclothing for every shift and that overclothing is removed during breaks, including cigarette breaks.

Money

Avoid cash payments where possible and encourage card and contactless payments. Ensure that hands are washed after handling money.

Cleaning and disinfection

Cleaning and disinfection must be thorough and regular. In particular concentrate on hand contact surfaces and food contact surfaces. Hand contact surfaces are areas that people touch regularly, including door and fridge handles, phones, cool box handles etc.

Use paper towels rather than fabric cloths for cleaning high risk areas such as food contact surfaces and hand contact surfaces.

Cross contamination

Review the business practices and cross contamination controls. Remove as many of the risks as you can.

Management systems and new ways of working

Some businesses are now offering takeaways or a changed menu. Ensure that you have reviewed any new practices or menu items in your food safety management systems (e.g. Safer Food Better Business) and have adequate controls and systems in place.

Make sure customers know they can ask for allergen information when they order and ensure allergen information is accurate.

Be safe and practical. Problems often occur when a business rapidly changes or is working overcapacity.

Ensure that all staff including any new staff you take on are appropriately trained and supervised.

You must ensure you follow the government guidelines.

Any questions?

If you are a Knowsley based business and have any queries in relation to food safety, health and safety or licensing, please contact us on 0151 443 4712 or environmentalhealth@knowsley.gov.uk and the team will get back to you as soon as they can. However, please be aware that services across the council are in high demand due to the impact of Coronavirus on our communities.