Foodservice businesses of all sizes across the country, from independent local coffee shops, delis and street food sellers to restaurants and pubs are keen to get back to doing what they do best. Serving their nutritious, delicious creations that can take us around the world - one bite at a time. It’s been a hugely challenging period and we salute all our foodservice heroes. Now as lockdown eases, it’s time to adapt and learn how to provide a 5-star service whilst still remaining safe.
How this guide - and the right food packaging - can help
Planglow want to help in any way that we can. We’ve written this guide
to provide a comprehensive summary of the changes the foodservice industry are
experiencing and to help our customers get
back to business.
Whilst sites may operate with limited capacity to seat customers, grab ’n’ go is becoming the next best option.
And with the most recent Government guidance stating that where possible “food served and/or displayed should be individually wrapped to avoid any contamination” Planglow are offering an earth-kind alternative to traditional plastic packaging.
Indeed, many of you will have already pivoted to takeaway and delivery for the first time. We’re here with advice on how to create a food offering that is safe, efficient and sustainable whilst still looking good.
Government Guidelines for Food Businesses during Coronavirus
Read on as we outline Government guidelines for food businesses during Covid-19 and suggestions on how you can adapt your service. You can find the full Government guidelines here.
The FSA has also created a useful reopening checklist for food businesses.
As a food business, we know that you’ll already be aware of good hygiene practices and food safety. However, the Government has issued additional guidance and advice for all workplaces involved in the manufacturing, packaging and retailing of food.
Anyone handling food must wash their hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds routinely, including:
- before and after handling food
- when moving between different areas of the workplace
- after being in a public place
- after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing (coughs and sneezes should be caught in a tissue or the crook of your elbow.)
You can find out more about personal hygiene and what you and your staff must do when handling food here and follow the Food Standards Agency’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) processes. Key areas to monitor include being fit for work, washing hands and wearing aprons/clean clothing. It is worth upping the ante on the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products.
What if a staff member develops Coronavirus symptoms?
The current guidance states:
“Any food handler or other employee who develops COVID-19 symptoms must self-isolate at home and should arrange to have a test by visiting testing or contacting NHS 119 by telephone if they do not have internet access.”
Employers need to encourage and enable food business workers to follow any notifications to self-isolate and support them when in isolation. As part of this, you should help your staff to comply with the requirements of the NHS Test and Trace Service.
Workplace risk assessments must now include the risk of Covid-19. The Health and Safety Executive has published guidance to help employers conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment. Failing to manage this risk could constitute a breach of the law and the authorities will be able to enforce employers to improve workplace risks, for instance, neglecting to take enough action to ensure social distancing. It is vital to share the new ways of working with your employees and continue to reiterate these. Try images of good and bad practice or daily team talks.
Social distancing is the most challenging aspect for food businesses - in what is usually a very social affair. The 2-metre rule changed to 1-metre in England on 4 July. At the time of writing, it is still 2 metres in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
For England, the advice is to stagger shift start and end times, reduce the number of workers per shift if that is possible, or create a break between shifts to allow the effective cleaning of working areas. In communal areas, ensure handwashing facilities or sanitiser are available at the entrance and increase the frequency of clearing especially on areas that are regularly touched by hands. It may also be useful to create outdoor communal spaces too.
Takeaways and restaurants offering a pick-up service
Switching to takeaways or a pick-up service is an effective way to keep your business going during the pandemic and as lockdown eases. This works across the catering sector from existing fast-food take-outs and grab and go establishments to cafes, bars and restaurants which perhaps haven’t offered takeaways before. In short, the recommendations are as follows:
- to encourage customers to order online, by app or by the phone - and avoid cash payments
- if customers are collecting, they should wait in a designated area where the social distancing rule can be maintained. If this is not possible, customers should enter one at a time when their order is ready
- stagger your collection times to avoid crowds forming outside. It would be good to give each of your customers a specific collection time. If there are queues, you need to account for social distancing between people.
We would advise that you put up clear signage and social distance markers and perhaps even allocate a member of staff to reiterate your policy to your customers. If you have an online presence, publicise your new ways of operating online.
If your customers don’t feel safe when they pick-up, they won’t come back so take the extra time to think about how your collection service will work in practice to avoid any issues.
Through the pandemic, canteens have been allowed to remain open for staff to obtain food, where there are no practical alternatives. Again, the designated social distance rule should be maintained as far as is reasonably practicable. It would also be useful to communicate any safety guidance and hand hygiene tips in these areas with posters and signs and arrows and markers on the floor. The key recommendations are:
- individual food packaging should be used where possible for food served or displayed to avoid contamination
- handwashing facilities or hand sanitiser must be available at the entrance to canteens
- make a point of checking that handwashing is being carried out
- stagger break times to help with social distancing
- different cohorts of workers should be seated in zones where possible
- add markers to the floor to show social distancing and flow of traffic
- staff should not share food or drink unless they are from the same household
- increase the frequency of cleaning, especially frequently touched surfaces
- doors and windows should be open to allow greater ventilation where possible
- use contactless payment.
Street food markets
Many Local Authorities will have closed street food and farmers’ markets to avoid crowds and maintain social distancing. Where markets are still in operation, operators need to consider how they can safely sell their products without encouraging crowds and ensure hygiene measures are in place.
Street food businesses could take orders online or by telephone in advance and be ready with pre-packaged goodies, or you could switch to deliveries.
Whilst writing this article, the Government Guidelines in England have changed to include the reopening of dine-in restaurants and cafes from 4 July. Areas that you need to consider:
- contactless ordering where possible
- table service with a designated server rather than ordering at the bar
- communicate from front of house to the kitchen via electronic devices
- clear signage about hygiene and processes
- hand sanitiser at the entrance
- Space your tables out to allow social distancing.
Takeaway packaging needs
Takeaway packaging is the common thread through all this advice for food businesses as the most effective solution right now.
Firstly, how safe is food packaging? The good news is that the World Health Organization (WHO) advises that the likelihood of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is very low. The advice from the Government is that “while food packaging is not known to present a specific risk, efforts should be made to ensure it is cleaned and handled in line with usual food safety practices.”(Government Covid-19 guidance for food businesses)
Indeed, disposable takeaway packaging continues to offer a safe and hygienic way to get your food out there. Even when restaurants return, using eco-friendly disposables could be the way forward for bricks and mortar food businesses.
Let’s turn to ideas to get your food out of the kitchen and into the hands of your customers.
Prep ahead so your customers can grab and go safety
With social distancing, you may need to stagger your kitchen and service times. Food preparation ahead of time could help here. Eco salad boxes, takeaway tubs, and sandwich packaging will be your new catering saviours. These takeaway food containers can be filled up ahead of time and will keep fresh for your grab and go customers.
Signed, sealed and delivered
After months of staying home, your customers may be wary of eating out again. Reassure them with packaging that’s sealed up safely and tamper-free. We offer a huge range of labels and stickers including these breakseal labels.
Secure lids will also be vital for takeaway food and hot drinks. All our eco coffee cups (8oz, 12 oz, 16 oz) can be paired with lids and our eco takeaway tubs (12oz and 16 oz) have lids too. Our lids are compostable too!
How do you ensure that your packaging is ready for delivery?
As well as pick-up takeaways, many businesses have been adding delivery to their services. We advise looking out for sturdy eco-friendly disposable packaging that will keep your food hot and fresh. Presentation is paramount for good customer service; they don’t want their sumptuous sushi, brilliant burger bun or fantastic falafel salad to arrive upside down! Finally, look out for packaging that’s designed to avoid seep and grease - essential features to keep your customers happy.
Labelling and allergens
Food delivery businesses must offer allergen information to customers when taking an order - over the phone or online via your website or a delivery app. It needs to be clear where customers can find out the allergen information before placing their order. Find out more about how our labelling software can help you stay compliant on allergen labelling.
Not just for school kids - try a packed lunch al desco
Packed lunches are a versatile way to offer your customers a hassle-free grab and go lunch. Start with a paper bag and pack with whatever takes your fancy. Pre-pack a compostable bag with a trusty sandwich in a wedge pack or a sandwich bag with a snack pack, a healthy piece of fruit and a soft drink. These can be used in canteens, cafes, grab and go chillers, or if you’re switching to takeaway for the first time.
As you customers start to return to work, they will be seeking al desco lunches again, so package it up in a bag or takeaway container ready for collection.
Takeaway hot drinks for extra get up and go
In these stressful times, we all need our cup of cha or mocha/latte/cortado/espresso to get us moving again. Takeaway cups are a hygienic alternative here to reusable cups - just ensure you opt for compostable packaging. A branded message on your cup could be more important than ever to promote your business and attract customers to your shop. It can be cost-effective too - we offer branded coffee cups in small print runs. What message would you like to give your customers?
Are you on social media? Are you making use of your networks? Social channels can help you raise awareness of your new opening times and new methods of delivery quickly. Instagram is also offering help for small businesses by allowing customers to order takeaways and deliveries from Stories. You can find out more here.
Social channels can also help you communicate clearly with your audience. They will be keen to know about food safely so reassure them that you are following Government guidance. Think about how you promote your offering in the new normal. With people cooking for themselves night after night, a takeaway will be a real treat, and consumers may prefer to #shoplocal.
Takeaway packaging to help you now - and in the new normal
We hope that this guide has given you ideas to help your business get back on track. Planglow is here to help now and as the lockdown eases further with quality, eco packaging that meets the needs of your business and your customers.
Our team has created a new takeaway section on our site to make it easy for you to choose eco-friendly takeaway packaging. Explore it here.
Feel free to give us a call or email to discuss your specific needs. Here’s to getting your mouth-watering food back on the menu today!
*Additional guidelines for the nations of the UK:
- For Scotland: https://www.foodstandards.gov.scot/publications-and-research/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-food-business-operators-and-their-employees
- For Wales:
- For Northern Ireland: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/information-and-services/coronavirus-covid-19/advice-businesses-and-workers