Name: Guidance for food businesses on Coronavirus
Description: Guidance for food businesses on Coronavirus

Guidance for food businesses on Coronavirus

The Government has produced specific guidance for food businesses on Coronavirus this is in addition to the COVID-19:guidance for employees, employers and businesses.

Additional advice for takeaway and delivery services

As a result of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, an increasing number of food businesses are providing hot and cold food deliveries and some of them may have not done this before.  In addition some markets organisers and businesses are now offering a pre-order delivery or collection service.

To help ensure such activities are carried out safely, we recommend the following procedures are implemented:

  • Follow the processes and procedures set out in your Food Safety Management System (such as Safer Food, Better Business - SFBB, which can be downloaded for free from the Food Standards Agency website).
  • You may need to update your food safety management system to include new procedures in relation to this change in your working methods.
  • You should adequately train and instruct food handlers on any new working methods and practices
  • Any food handler in your business who is unwell should not be at work. If they have symptoms they should follow government advice and stay at home.
  • Everyone must wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when they arrive at their place of work
  • Before any food handling activity you should thoroughly clean and sanitise all equipment and food and hand contact surfaces
  • Food handlers must wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, and especially after being in a public place, blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • All food must be protected against contamination
  • Food packaging should be stored in hygienic conditions. Keep food packaging in the boxes/bags it is delivered in until you need it and only remove small quantities of food packaging as it is required. Wash your hands before handling food packaging.
  • High risk ready to eat foods must be kept covered. Only use food grade containers
  • Raw foods (including raw meats, raw chicken, raw fish, raw unwashed vegetables and fruit) must be completely segregated from ready to eat foods and stored and dispatched in separate transport containers.  Do not stack transport containers of raw food on top or in contact with those containing high risk ready to eat food
  • Vehicles used for deliveries must be maintained in good condition and be kept clean.  You should clean the hand contact surfaces in or on the vehicle regularly.
  • If packaged foods are delivered in outer transport containers (insulated boxes/trays/boxes) these must be cleaned and disinfected between deliveries.
  • Hot foods must be checked to ensure they reach safe temperatures on cooking/reheating (above 75°C) and be hot (above 63°C) at the time of dispatch. Use a probe thermometer, for checking food temperatures, disinfecting the probe before and after use. Hot foods must be delivered in insulated containers to maintain temperatures and should reach the customer as soon as possible, ideally within 30 minutes but no longer than 2 hours.
  • High risk cold foods (such as salads, cooked cold meats and  fish, sandwiches, etc) must be below 8°C (ideally below 5°C) at the time of dispatch and should be delivered as soon as possible, ideally within 30 minutes but no longer than 2 hours. Use a separate insulated transport container for cold foods
  • Transport containers must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to re-use
  • Delivery drivers must thoroughly wash their hands, for at least 20 seconds using soap and hot water, immediately before starting each delivery journey and on return to the business premises. In addition they must sanitise their hands between each delivery
  • Staff must practice the highest standards of personal hygiene at all times.
  • Staff should not enter customers' properties and should keep as far away from customers as is possible when handing over the food.
  • Use a sanitiser/disinfectant which is tested to either BS EN 1276 and/or BS EN 13697 and for the contact time stated on the container.
  • It is STRONGLY recommended that you only use disposable or single use cloths/paper towel for cleaning and disinfection activities in your food business, unless you can wash cleaning cloths  at 90°C. We DO NOT recommend taking cleaning cloths home for washing at the present time.
  • There is specific guidance for businesses who sell food by mail order or over the internet

Food business operators should follow the Food Standard Agency’s guidance on good hygiene practices in food preparation.

If your food business offers a pick-up (collection) service, you should follow these procedures for collections:

  • No orders should be taken in person on the premises - this should be communicated to customers by appropriate means such as signage in the window/door, on menus and websites
  • Businesses should only take orders online or by telephone
  • Customers could have staggered collection times - customers should be discouraged from entering the premises until their order is ready and maintain social distancing whilst waiting outside
  • Customers arriving without having already placed an order should be encouraged to leave the premises to place their order by telephone or online, and to return at a designated time for collection
  • Customers whose orders are ready should enter one at a time to collect orders and make payments
  • Ensure the layout and placement of payment equipment in your premises and the payment process is designed to help serving staff maintain social distancing
  • If possible, take payment via online ordering and payment systems, but if you do have to handle money, wash your hands for 20 seconds in hot soapy water immediately afterwards
  • Businesses should discourage crowding outside the premises. Where possible, use queue management systems to maintain the 2 metres separation


Allergens also need to be considered if food is sold at a distance (e.g. internet sales or home delivery), the allergen information must be provided:

  • Before the purchase of the food is complete (this could be in writing or verbally)
  • In a written format when the food is delivered.

Information on allergens can be found on the Food Standards Agency web site.

Further information

Setting up and running a food business
Business Companion Guide - Food allergens and intolerance
Food Standards Agency Guidance - Distance selling, mail order and delivery
Food Standards Agency Guidance - Packing and labelling
Chartered Institute of Environmental Health - Food delivery and takeaway COVID-19 guidance

Last Updated: 05th May 2020