If you are reopening a business during lockdown easing there is extensive guidance available below on how this should be handled in a safe and responsible manner.
If your building was closed during the coronavirus outbreak, water system stagnation may have occurred due to lack of use, increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease. If your business uses water storage tanks and these tanks have been isolated for a period time and not been maintained throughout your closure then you must follow all relevant protocols for the safe recommissioning of such tanks.
The Legionella Control Association (LCA) indicates the minimum expectation for small, simple hot and cold water systems would be flushing through with fresh mains water. In other cases including premises with water tanks the expectation is likely to be for more extensive flushing followed by cleaning and disinfection. For further info please visit https://www.legionellacontrol.org.uk/news/90/
Flush clean water through machines that are plumbed into the water supply such as dish washers, ice machines, drinking fountains, coffee machines, slush-ice makers, post mix guns, self-service soft drink machines and water coolers in order to flush through any stagnant water. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on settings to be used for cleaning if equipment has not been used for some time.
Condition of Premises and Equipment
It is essential to carry out thorough checks prior to re-opening to ensure they are in a safe condition, do not present a risk of contamination and will allow for the hygienic production or handling of food. Carry out a walk-through of the premises to ensure it is in a good state of repair and that no damage has occurred during the closure. Check all essential equipment is operating and in good condition Contact your waste contractor to ensure that commercial waste from the premises will be uplifted.
Following prolonged closure a ‘deep clean’ should be carried out to ensure the entire premises is adequately cleaned/disinfected prior to reopening. This should be done in accordance with and supplemented by your existing cleaning schedule. Ensure that hand contact points such as door handles, tap handles, light switches and soap/hand towel dispensers are not missed when undertaking such. Consideration should also be given to communal areas such as staff rooms, changing rooms and staff toilet facilities.
Stock check/food disposal
Check for expired products. Ensure waste food is disposed of appropriately and quickly and is not allowed to accumulate inside or outside the premises. Check there is no evidence of temporary power failures within your equipment such as fridges and freezers. If there is any evidence that defrosting may have occurred the food should be disposed of. If there is any doubt whatsoever about product safety then dispose of the product. It is highly likely that food items stored within the refrigerator will now have exceeded their durability dates and should therefore be discarded. Oil in fryers should be replaced, particularly where it has been left uncovered.
Thorough pest control checks must be carried out prior to reopening. Any noted pest activity or presence must be addressed. It is recommended that you seek assistance from a reputable pest control contractor to aid you with this.
Operating under The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020
It is critical that food businesses prioritise the safety of their staff as an essential resource and to ensure all of their employees are following government guidance on infection prevention and control measures against Covid-19. It is of the utmost importance that food businesses continue to uphold their existing good hygiene practices pertinent to food and customer safety as well as further supplementing them in light of the current situation.
Stirling Council understand that businesses may look to change their business model and diversify in order to maintain their business during this time. If you have any specific enquiries please email email@example.com or call 01786 404040.
Food Standards Scotland have put together a generic risk assessment tool to help food businesses review facilities and workflow in line with COVID-19 hygiene and physical distancing requirements and identify changes needed to make when re-starting food production and service operations.
Whilst undertaking your risk assessment please refer to the COVID-19 guidance produced by both Food Standards Scotland and Health and Safety Executive as well as Scottish Government’s sector guidance for easing lockdown.
Social (Physical) Distancing
You must risk assess and put in place control measures to ensure that all staff can adhere to 2m social distancing requirements. This may include the redesign of workflows, implementation of one-way systems, reduction in your capacity, staff numbers and menu, as well as changes to the way in which you interact with your customers during service, food collections and deliveries.
Further guidance on workplace safety, including industry specific guidance can be found via the following links:
You have responsibilities to ensure food handlers are fit for work under the food hygiene regulations. In addition you have a general duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of persons in your employment and members of the public. Ensure the Government's infection control policy in relation to coronavirus is followed. All staff should be familiar of the symptoms of Coronavirus (high temperature/fever and/or new continuous cough and/or loss/change in sense of taste/smell) and of the actions to take should anyone display symptoms. The Scottish Government and public health authorities have guidance on symptoms, actions and subsequent cleaning and disinfection of areas.
All food handlers must regularly wash their hands using warm running water and hand soap for at least 20 seconds and dry them with disposable paper towels. Alcohol based hand sanitiser gels can be used in addition to hand washing but it is important to note that they only work on visibly clean hands and should not be used as a substitute for properly washing hands. Customers should be encouraged to use a sanitiser on entry to the premises. Further guidance on handwashing is available from public health. Use of disposable gloves is not a suitable alternative to regular thorough hand washing and their use is not encouraged.
During operation, it is advised that you increase the frequency of your ongoing cleaning/disinfecting activities to at least every two hours, particularly for hand contact surfaces and worktops. For regular cleaning and disinfecting of key touch points (including worktops, door handles, grab-rails in corridors, stairwells, keypads, vending machines, etc), use a disposable cloth, first clean hard surfaces with warm soapy water then disinfect these surfaces with the cleaning products you normally use.
Consideration should be given to augmenting existing cleaning procedures that comply with Food Standards Scotland’s current E. Coli O157 Control of Cross Contamination Guidance and the additional regular cleaning of hand contact areas with cleaning agents known to be effective against viruses e.g. use of quaternary ammonium compounds as there is evidence that such can deactivate viruses. Products bearing the EN 14476:2019 standard should have been tested for efficacy against enveloped viruses (although not specifically the virus responsible for COVID-19).
Menu control & Suppliers
Due to the current restrictions food premises may be working with reduced staff numbers, this can potentially increase the risks to food safety such as greater potential for cross contamination to occur. A review of your menu may be required with a view to potentially reducing the range of foods available for order.
It is important to remember that if you have made any changes to your menu, your supplier(s) or ingredients, you must ensure you have reviewed your allergy information.
You should continue to ensure that you use reputable suppliers. There is an increased risk of food fraud with unfit, unsafe, out of date or sub-standard food entering the supply chain.
Food Collection and Deliveries
You must continue to ensure that social distancing requirements can be maintained during food collections and deliveries. Give consideration as to how you might achieve this e.g. encourage contact-free delivery, phone orders and staggered collection times.
If you are introducing a food delivery service as a new aspect then ensure you give consideration to temperature control and vehicle cleanliness during transit of orders.
Food Safety Management System & Staff training
You must ensure that consideration is given to hazards, controls and monitoring procedures when making any of the above or other procedural changes such as the introduction of a takeaway/delivery service to ensure there is no compromise to food safety. Your current Food Safety Management system must be updated and all staff (existing and new/replacement) instructed/trained appropriately in all new procedures and made familiar with its contents and should be trained on any measures implemented by the business to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
There is no relaxation on food law legal requirements for matters relating to food safety and standards, as well as in relation to the training requirements of food handlers.
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Systems (HVAC)
With regards to COVID-19 related ventilation issues Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) have produced recommendations that can be found here that suggest that dilution of internal air should reduce the risk of potential airborne transmission and that any HVAC which normally run on a recirculation mode be switched to an external intake where possible and that recirculation between areas occupied by different people should be avoided. In relation to vacated buildings they are recommending that HVAC runs continuously at reduced speeds
Other Environmental Health information
Full information can be found on the Health Protection Scotland Website including guidance for non-healthcare settings such as schools, places of detention, and separate guidance for social care settings.
The Council’s Street Cleaning team is providing a much-reduced service due to staff absence and staff redeployment to vital services.
Last updated: Monday, August 24, 2020 8:43 AM