Food and safety advice for businesses

Community groups preparing and delivering food

Important

  • Food must only be prepared in premises which are registered with the Council. 
  • You must inform Environmental Health that you are using these premises for the purpose of delivering food during the emergency before you start. 
  • The food that you prepare for the community must be for delivery only. You are not allowed to serve food or drink at any locations. Do not allow the public to collect from your location.
  • If you are setting up and operating a food bank to deliver food, please inform Environmental Health.

The Coronavirus is a severe and on-going threat to human life in Scotland. No one must take part in your operation if there is any doubt about their state of health or the people they are at home with. 

It is vitally important that the National Health Service is not further burdened by preventable illness at this time, including food poisoning.  Your aim is to make and deliver nutritious food which is safe to eat. 

Contact Environmental Health for advice and guidance

Sourcing food supplies 

  • Only source or accept ingredients and food from reputable suppliers.
  • Do not accept donations directly from the public. 
  • Do not accept food that is out of date or obviously damaged.  Do not accept quantities of food that you do not have space to store safely before you use or delivery it. 
  • Chilled food must be within its use by date and at chill temperature when it arrives.
  • Keep the number of volunteers who collect supplies to a minimum. 
  • People collecting supplies must not share vehicles unless they can stick to the 2 metre social distancing rule.

Receiving and unpacking supplies

  • Follow established food safety practices for the storage of food. Store raw and ready-to-eat food separately. 
  • Hands must be washed after touching or unwrapping any packaged food.
  • Unwrapped foods must only be handled with clean hands. 
  • Immediately discard food packaging into waste containers.

Protecting staff and volunteers

  • Keep staff and volunteers, separate from each other while they work (by 2 metres/6 feet).
  • Kitchen Staff: Make hand washing facilities available and ensure there is soap and hand towels. Wash hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before rinsing. Turn the tap off with the paper towel.
  • Delivery Drivers: must wash their hands upon entering the distribution building. Whilst doing deliveries sanitising hand gel should be used as needed. Note – washing with soap and water and drying the hands properly is the best protective measure.
  • Current advice is that people do not need to wear protective equipment such as masks (catering staff should wear their usual protective clothing). However, people may wish to wear disposable gloves to protect themselves. Note: gloves can transmit infection as well as hands can.
  • Arrange for the regular cleaning of surfaces, table tops, door handles throughout the day.
  • Do not contaminate food with the cleaning chemicals.

Preparing food

  • The kitchen must be out-of-bounds to everyone except for the cook until the end of food preparation.
  • The person preparing food must have sufficient knowledge and experience of food safety practices to be able to prepare food safely.
  • Be realistic about how much food can be prepared and delivered each day.
  • Start small and then scale up if demand increases. 
  • Do not attempt to do more than you can do safely.
  • Make food that is simple to prepare, package and deliver. 
  • If the food is cooked, make sure it is cooked through till piping hot. You should have a cooking thermometer to check this. Environmental Health can supply thermometers.
  • Deliver the food hot – no longer than 20 minutes after packing at the kitchen. Use insulated boxes.
  • Ready to eat foods - such as sandwiches - must be prepared and delivered no more than 2 hours after packing.
  • Sandwich fillings that need chilling to keep them safe - such as cooked meats or cheese - must be stored in refrigerators. Use them up the same day.  Make sure they are well within the use-by date. Check the refrigerator is working properly.

If you intend to prepare and deliver chilled or frozen ready meals please contact Environmental Health to discuss this before starting to do so.

Delivering food

  • Food should be packaged by catering staff and placed at a dispatch point for collection by drivers. 
  • Use hot boxes for hot food or cold boxes with cool packs for cold food. Do not mix hot and cold food in the same box.
  • Drivers must maintain the 2 metre separation when collecting food. Do not allow them to congregate together at delivery collection times. This must be strictly observed. Designate someone to control this if necessary.

Delivery drivers

  • There must be only one person in a vehicle at a time unless it is large enough to maintain to 2 metre distance between occupants.
  • Each driver should be familiar with their delivery route before they start so that there are no unnecessary delays. 
  • The driver should place the delivery outside the door of the property, knock or ring the doorbell and retreat well back from the door when the customer answers. Or the driver can phone the customer to say the delivery is outside.

Delivery vehicles

  • Vehicles must be fit for purpose, and food must not be exposed to contamination.
  • Keep the interior of the vehicle clean.
  • Do not transport food with animals or chemicals such as fuel, oil and screen wash.
  • Check the vehicle insurance to ensure drivers are covered for this sort of use.

Allergies

You must by law take allergens into account in your arrangements. 

You are not obliged to make food which is free of any particular allergen. 

You must however provide accurate information about what allergens are in the food, either when taking food orders or when delivering. 

This is a legal requirement that concerns these allergens:

  • celery
  • cereals containing gluten – incl. wheat, rye, barley and oats
  • crustaceans – e.g. crabs and lobsters
  • eggs
  • fish
  • lupin
  • milk
  • molluscs – e.g. mussels and oysters
  • mustard
  • nuts 
  • peanuts
  • sesame seeds
  • soybeans
  • sulphur dioxide and sulphites