With social distancing measures being put in place across the country, this has led to an increase in demand for on-line purchase of food and as a result food box and ready-meal deliveries, haves increased significantly. Box schemes deliver fresh produce to homes, providing a range of vegetables, salad, fruit, eggs, dairy product including milk, and fish, meat and poultry, and sometimes grocery products too. There are variations in the type of boxes that could be delivered:
- Vegetable only where all the items will be cooked before eating
- Fruit and vegetables where there are a mixture of ready-to-eat items and items that will be cooked in the box
- Mixed boxes (fruits, vegetables, dairy products, eggs, fish and meats)
Ready meals, desserts and sandwiches are also being prepared for delivery to homes – either for immediate consumption, cooking or re-heating or for storing for future use in refrigerators or freezers. Temperature control is critical for these products so best practice must be followed at all times.
All food must be delivered to consumers in a way that ensures that it does not become unsafe or unfit to eat.
It’s very important to store food properly to keep it safe. Storing food in sealed containers and at the correct temperature protects it from harmful bacteria, stops objects falling into it, and avoids cross-contamination with other ingredients. Therefore, any raw and cooked fish and meats must be stored separately, securely, at the correct temperature and away from fresh fruits, salads and vegetables to prevent cross-contamination, preferably in separate containers.
• All products with more than one ingredient must be accompanied by information describing its composition, including any allergens that are present.
• Any dishes or meals prepared for further cooking or re-heating at home should have clear instructions included on a label or leaflet to make sure the food is prepared safely at home.
• Any dishes or meals prepared for storing for use at a later date should have a clear use by date and instructions included on a label or leaflet to explain how to store it properly (chilling or freezing instructions) and how to prepare it safely at home e.g. defrosting and cooking instructions.
During Delivery (temperature):
- If boxes and bags are needed to keep hot food hot or cold food cold, then choose appropriate insulated carriers so the correct temperatures can be maintained. The containers should be made from a material that is easy to clean and disinfect.
- Hot food should have been cooked at the appropriate temperatures. If being provided hot, food should be provided to customers at 63°C or above.
- If food has been cooked and then it chilled it must be chilled in line with regulatory guidance and cold food being transported should have a temperature of 8°C or colder. To achieve this, it is recommended to keep distances short and limited to within a 30 minute travel time from the food preparation site.
- Certain foods should be chilled at all times to ensure quality and safety. This food group includes dairy products, as well as raw and cooked fish and meats.
- Chilled food can be kept at ambient temperature for a maximum of four hours, in one continuous period, so you do not have to have a chilled compartment or box for a short journey. However, if a chilled product is kept at a temperature of more than 8 degrees Celsius for more than four hours, it should be destroyed.
- Food businesses must also identify and remove possible cross-contamination risks in the delivery process. This can be done through packaging fruit, vegetables, dairy products, cooked and raw fish and meat separately, securely and storing them appropriately in-transit to avoid contamination from the vehicle and from cross-contaminating each other through any spillages.
- If an allergen-free product or meal has been ordered, it should be separately packed and clearly labelled when delivered which container it is in.
- Vehicles used for food delivery should be suitable for transporting food, i.e. clean, dry and not previously used for transporting odorous or toxic materials, glass, paints, solvents, building materials, etc.
- Drivers must also follow food handler hygiene good practices – including washing or sanitising hands before and after collection and keep uniforms/clothing clean and tidy.
At Delivery Destination:
- Place the order at the customer’s door and make contact by knocking on the door/ ringing the doorbell or phoning the customer
- The driver or rider should move back from the order to allow for a two-metre social space. Social distancing of two metres must be used at all times.
- The food product must be taken into the house and put in appropriate storage as soon as possible.