With the focus for garden centres and farm shop now moving towards reopening of their restaurants and cafes, in this document there are compliance suggestions to consider when planning for reopening safely during COVID-19.
The following considerations are to support garden centre and farm shop restaurant employers and employees as part of their strategic plans for re-opening their restaurants. There are other areas for restaurants to consider additional to these which restaurants will need to identify within their own business model.
The overall final decision for actions to take prior opening and the accountability and responsibility for any actions taken in a restaurant/café lie with the garden centre/farm shop restaurant.
The guidance was created on 15th June 2020, however ongoing government guidance may be updated and regularly reviewing updates on the government websites are advised. The food standards agency has created a checklist to support food businesses in reopening safely during COVID-19 after a period of inaction and this can also be seen here.
I: Preparing for Re-opening
After a period of closure which we have seen since March 2020, restaurants will require to implement extra checks alongside their standards daily opening checks. Just as was the case in the retail areas, these will support businesses in making sure that they can restart safely.
Restaurants and Cafes will need to maintain their everyday basic hygiene standards and also identify and take action in areas where greater attention will be required.
A: Check your Local Authority is informed of current food activities
B: Review and update your Food Safety Management System for any new procedures
Garden Centre and Farm Shop restaurants need to review their ‘Food Safety Management Systems’ enabling them to identify risks. This should be recorded in their compliance documentation, often referred to as Safer food, Better Business pack (SFBB), or Safe Catering (Northern Ireland) or Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan.
This review is advised as essential and a major factor in planning for the future. Businesses should consider all changes to their processes and services affected by to COVID-19. This could include changes across processes and layout, such as staff scheduling, kitchen layout, seating layout, customer interactions and any required control measures.
When re-opening restaurants should review their usual start-up procedures following any shut-down. This is so they can consider whether any additional procedures are needed and should take into account the length of time your business has not been in operation. This review should also consider the cleaning requirements for your business, and have an assessment of any pest control requirements following the period of closure.
C: Check registered waste carrier services
D: Risk Assessments
In line with wider government advice, you should make sure that the risk assessment for your restaurant addresses all risks including the risks of COVID-19. These should be completed by a ‘competent person’. For further advice on what is required when completing risk assessments contact Andrew Burton at Malcolm Scott Consultants.
The government also supply ongoing and updated advice on its government social distancing guidance which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19. This will enable businesses to have a resource to inform their decisions and control measures. You must:
E: Food safety
For any restaurant offering a takeaway or delivery service the food standards agency have more information on allergen and hygiene requirements at https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/adapting-restaurants-and-food-businesses-for-takeaway-and-food-delivery-during-covid-19
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health have published further guidance at https://www.cieh.org/media/4070/covid-19-food-delivery-and-takeaway-guidance.pdf
Thorough cleaning of premises and equipment
You should carry out a thorough clean of your restaurant, kitchen, store rooms and equipment before re-starting operations. You should consider processes and appropriate methods to verify the effectiveness of your cleaning, and decide whether a professional deep clean is needed.
It is important to check all food preparation areas, (Front and Back of House) are clean and disinfected (this includes work surfaces, under equipment, equipment, doors and utensils). To do this you should consider:
The Food Standards Agency Safer food, better business pack provides advice on cleaning in specific sectors. Our E.coli cross-contamination guidance also offers a comprehensive chapter on cleaning and disinfecting.
F: Cleaning and disinfection
To comply with the food standards agencies guidelines and the general rules for food hygiene, you are required to have in place your own cleaning, disinfection and hygiene procedures as part of your Food Safety Management System. Businesses should ensure this is in place in their restaurants.
Any chemicals used in food establishments to clean and disinfect food contact surfaces and equipment must be approved as food safe as you should discuss this with your supplier. You are advised to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for preparation and for use, paying particular attention to contact times.? This supports understanding for both underuse of chemicals or using too much. Discussing supply of chemicals which are needed to clean bacteria and viruses with your chemical supplier, who should also supply COSHH details is advised. They may also support with advice or training for use of any chemicals they supply. The?Food Standards agency 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.
You should seek approved, food-safe alternatives with equivalent and effective properties if your regular cleaning and disinfecting products are not available or if your processes do not support this fully.
G: Availability of consumables
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.
Also, restaurants should review their stocks of disposable (ideally sustainable products), especially if the business model supports less use of permanent cutlery and plates and more use of disposable utensils, cups and plates as part of their Covid-19 plans.
You should review your restaurant food safety processes for accepting your customers’ reusable equipment, such as refillable coffee cups or containers. It is the garden centre/farm shop restaurant business’s decision as to whether they can continue to accommodate this, although taking in to account Covid-19 guidance handling items brought in by customer may not be advisable. The restaurant will need a procedure to minimise contact of items between staff and customers. This should reduce the potential risk to your staff, equipment and premises from surface contamination.
You can do this by:
If you are deciding not to or are unable to accommodate reusable customer containers, you should explain to customers that you are unable to use their equipment at this time.
When you have decided on the best option for your business, you should record this in your food safety management system and your COVID-19 risk assessment. Staff should be trained in any changes to the procedure.
H: Stock control
Food businesses should ensure that any packaged goods, 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.
Businesses should also check temperature control records if available and they should not use ingredients or raw materials where the integrity of packaging is not intact or where you are not content that temperature control has been maintained.
I: Availability of raw materials and ingredients
You should check that you can obtain your usual stock range for raw materials and ingredients so that your product specifications and allergen controls can be met. Ensure any new suppliers you source or contractors you use meet your requirements, especially in relation to allergen management.
J: Allergen management
You should check that labelling is still available for allergens and that your allergen matrices are up to date. If your suppliers or ingredients have changed, you will need to review your processes and communication. If you need support on allergy management businesses could contact their local environmental health department.
Check your existing stocks have not been cross-contaminated during closedown period.
If your restaurant had decided to freeze products during closure you should check labelling. Restaurants should ensure that they are able to use the food safely, taking into consideration the product durability once defrosted and allergen management.
L: Staff training
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 and this should be reviewed.
You should reconsider the training needs for your staff, including any changes such as those made to any procedures, recipes and other hygiene measures. This includes social distancing and customer service training in support of dealing with customers who need help with new processes and government guidelines.
M: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in restaurants can be for both the protection of workers and customers. The current Covid-19 situation should not change these requirements and your risk assessment should highlight PPE requirements throughout the restaurant in support of food management and COVID-19 risk management.
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.
The food standards agency gives more advice on PPE on their website, including specific information on glove use, face masks and face coverings.
N: Social distancing
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 and this should be identified in the risk assessments.
Businesses will need to follow Government guidance on how to implement social distancing at work and steps they can take to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.
O: Food hygiene ratings
Restaurants and Cafes will receive a new rating when the next planned inspection is carried out by your local authority. If you feel you wanted to do receive one of these earlier to communicate to your customers that you are safe and compliant, you can request a re-visit to get a new rating when all the necessary hygiene improvements identified at the most recent inspection have been made by contacting your local environmental health department.
P: Alcohol Licence
Restaurants and Cafes will need to check their alcohol licence and music licence are up to date and correct. This is especially relevant if seating areas have increased outside of the existing licenced area.
II: Restaurant Site checks
Equipment and Materials checks
Check handwashing and cleaning materials’ availability (this includes soap, sanitiser and paper towels)
Check hot and cold running water is available at all sinks and hand wash basins.
Check your fridges, chilled display equipment and freezers are working properly
Check your other equipment (e.g. oven) is working properly
Ingredient and product checks
Check raw materials and ingredients
Check allergen information is accurate and available for all products
Check your SFBB or HACCP documentation is accurate and available for all products
Check Pest Control is up to date and there are no signs of activity
III: Social Distancing Measures
Employee, public, contractor and other visitor safety
Contractors, Suppliers and Other Visitors
IV: Signage and Customer Communication
V: Planning permission
Many businesses have planning permission conditions which may affect what is permissible in their restaurants and these permissions should be reviewed to ensure any changes meet requirements. These include areas such as trading hours and introduction of retail ranges.
For any planning permission enquiries contact Chris Primett at Malcolm Scott Consultants on 01905 726353 or at email@example.com
VI: Additional considerations
Restaurants will need to review their full risk assessments and take any further action needed in preparation of opening. Each restaurant is accountable for their own opening preparation and plans and further information and guidance should be researched to ensure all areas of the restaurant are assessed with action taken when issues are identified.
Whilst compliance and preparation is essential, the effect on processes, turnover, costs and the overall business structure should also be considered before re-opening. Therefore it is recommended that full business reviews should be completed. This can be done internally or using guidance from external consultants.
For further support, including reviewing turnover potential, overhead controls, menu planning, kitchen design, seating layout, space management, staff scheduling and communication, you can contact Andrew Burton at Malcolm Scott Consultants om firstname.lastname@example.org or 01905 721694.