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This page gives guidance on how to reopen and adapt food businesses to work safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The information contained is largely taken from UK Gov guidelines. The government advice on reopening or modifying the way you operate your business is available from this link.
In line with wider government advice, you should make sure that the risk assessment for your business addresses the risks of COVID-19. You should use the government social distancing guidance to inform your decisions and control measures. You should also consider how this impacts on your existing food safety management systems.
Food businesses which are restarting, or have made changes should review and, where necessary, update their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) procedures or HACCP-based Food Safety Management System (such as Safer Food, Better Business (SFBB) packs or Safe Catering in Northern Ireland). You should check that you have not introduced any additional hazards which you are not controlling.
If you are restarting operations, you should review your usual start-up procedures following any shut-down and consider whether any additional procedures are needed. This should consider the length of time your business has not been in operation. This review should consider the cleaning requirements for your business, and an assessment of any pest control needs following the period of inaction. SFBB provides a checklist for opening and closing checks and advice on extra checks which should be undertaken.
You should carry out a thorough clean of your food premises and equipment before re-starting operations. You should consider appropriate methods to verify the effectiveness of your cleaning, and whether a professional deep clean is needed. Holchem provide guidance on cleaning effectively in your business (Optimum Cleaning System brochure).
Our Optimum Cleaning System provides guidance and methods for cleaning in the Foodservice and Hospitality sectors; this should form part of your Food Safety Management System (FSMS).
You should follow guidance on good hygiene practices in food preparation. This should include ensuring that objects and surfaces that are touched regularly are frequently cleaned and disinfected using cleaning products with proven anti-viral efficacy.
Holchem Touch Point Posters can be used as a simple reminder to staff on areas that need to be routinely and regularly cleaned/disinfected. We recommend the use of a detergent disinfectant applied either by spray and disposable cloth or by impregnated wipe. The Safer food, better business (SFBB) for Caterers pack (Safe Catering guide for Northern Ireland), advises food businesses to use disinfectants and sanitisers that meet BS EN standards. The Holchem range of disinfection products are tested against the appropriate EN protocol; the information is available from the Optimum Product Information sheets.
Food businesses should ensure that any ingredients or raw materials that have passed their use-by date are disposed of appropriately. You should also inspect stocks for damage and/or signs of pest-infestation and check temperature control records if available. You should not use ingredients or raw materials where the integrity of packaging is not intact or where you are not content that adequate temperature control has been maintained.
You should check that you can obtain your usual raw materials and ingredients so that your product specifications can be met. Ensure any new suppliers or contractors meet your requirements.
You should check that you have adequate stocks of suitable cleaning chemicals and that they are in-date. This also applies to other essential consumable items such as disposable gloves.
You should check labelling is still available for allergens and that matrices are up to date. If your suppliers or ingredients have changed, you will need to review your processes.
If due to business closure, you decided to freeze products you would normally store, you should check labelling. You should ensure that you are able to use the food safely, considering product durability (once defrosted) and allergen management.
By law, food business operators must ensure that food handlers receive the appropriate supervision and training in food hygiene. This should be in line with the area they work in and will enable them to handle food in the safest way. In the UK, food handlers do not have to hold a food hygiene certificate to prepare or sell food.
The skills taught in official training programmes can also be learned by:
You should reconsider training needs for your staff, including any changes such as those made to procedures, recipes and other hygiene measures. Holchem provide a range of eLearning packages to complement face to face and hands-on training.
The use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the food industry can be for the protection of workers, and where appropriate to prevent the contamination of food during production. The current situation should not change these requirements.
You should continue to ensure that the use of PPE is as set out in your Food Safety Management System (FSMS), and in line with your current Health & Safety at Work policies.
You should stress the importance of more frequent handwashing and maintaining good hygiene practices in food preparation and handling areas. Employees should wash their hands especially after being in a public place, blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing; the correct wash and drying procedure should take approximately 45 secs.
The Food Safety and Hygiene legislation requires that you provide safe food and have appropriate hygiene procedures in place. Some businesses may implement a glove-use policy but the wearing of gloves by personnel handling food is not a legal requirement.
The best way in which food handlers can maintain good personal hygiene is by frequently washing their hands. Gloves can be used as an aide to good food hygiene practice but should not be considered a substitute for a thorough regime of effective hand washing. The COVID-19 virus (and other viruses as well as bacteria) can contaminate disposable gloves in the same way it gets onto workers’ hands.
If gloves are used, they should be changed as often as you would wash hands and you must wash your hands when changing or removing gloves. Gloves must be changed after carrying out non-food related activities, such as opening and closing doors by hand, handling money and emptying bins. Food workers should avoid touching their mouth and eyes when wearing gloves.
There may be situations where you provide face masks to protect high-risk foods or where workers are exposed to airborne risks. If so, you should continue to follow your current policies on the use of face masks.
Follow your established procedures for use of PPE in the working environment. You should also consider social distancing guidance.
Where your staff choose to wear face coverings, either to travel to work or in the workplace, you should put procedures in place for hygienic use, handling and storage or disposal of face coverings. Inappropriate use and handling could present a risk to food hygiene and safety.
It will not always be possible to keep a distance of 2 metres. In these circumstances both employers and employees must do everything they reasonably can to reduce risk.
These posters & signs are an addition to the Optimum Cleaning System and available for download to assist your business.
This booklet provides detailed cleaning methods for foodservice and hospitality with clear and concise instruction to help the user comply with legislation and best practice guidelines including control of Coronavirus (SARS-CoV2).
A sign to instruct and illustrate those surfaces that need routine and regular cleaning and disinfection using a suitable anti-viral disinfectant.
Download by clicking on Downloads PI
A sign to instruct and illustrate types of surfaces that need routine and regular cleaning and disinfection using a suitable anti-viral disinfectant.
A poster as a aide memoire on things to consider.
A poster to illustrate the EN tests that are used to determine the efficacy of disinfectants.