Closure of food businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic

If you are one of the many businesses that have been forced to close down, there are some simple guidelines that you may need to consider to ensure your premises is left in a safe and hygienic condition.

It's important that you turn off and isolate gas appliances and any other equipment that can be turned off and unplugged.

Removing perishable food

It is likely that your premises could be closed for some time therefore it is advisable to remove all perishable food from the premises. This is to prevent food deterioration and reduce the risk of attracting pests onto your premises.

Fridges should be emptied of all perishable food items and where necessary/possible should be switched off and left with the door open to prevent unwanted odours.

Check the dates on longer life food items to ensure a long enough shelf life is left for the food to be used safely.

You may want to store any food packets in plastic lidded containers or other suitable pest proof containers to reduce the risk of this being a food source for potential pests.

Many of the food items could be frozen down to prevent food wastage to be used when the premises re-opens providing that strict guidelines are followed.

Freezing down food

Many foods can be frozen down including milk, yoghurt, fish, meats, cheese etc. providing they are frozen down before the expiry of the use by or best before date.

Please ensure all items are securely wrapped in food grade wrappings or freezer bags to prevent freezer burn.

If you are freezing down milk ensure that only milk in plastic cartons is frozen and as liquids expand you may need to pour a small quantity out to avoid cartons bursting.

Items should be labelled with a date of freezing to assist with effective stock rotation and to demonstrate that they have been frozen down before the expiry of its use by or best before date.

remember any persons (contractors, employees) visiting your premises must adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Keeping things clean

It is good practice to ensure your premises is left in a clean and tidy condition and that all food waste has been removed from the premises.

It may also be a good time to clean out and disinfect bins to reduce unwanted odour, prevent pest activity, maggots etc.

Pest Control

If the premises are left undisturbed for a long period this could leave the premises at more risk from unwanted pest activity.

If you have a current pest control contract try to ensure that your contractor can still have access to the premises to treat and provide any proofing advice / recommendations.

This should be done in accordance with current government guidelines about social distancing.

If you do not have a pest control contract please ensure that you visit your premises during this time to check that there are no current pest issues and take appropriate action where necessary.

You should also ensure that any freezers or fridges with long life foods in, for example sauces are still all working correctly and at the correct temperatures.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have a YouTube Pest Control video giving further guidance.

Taking care of those outstanding jobs

Although your business is closed, it may be a good opportunity to undertake repair works or deep cleaning tasks that are difficult to undertake whilst the business is operating.  

You can also arrange for essential maintenance of equipment such as gas inspections, electrical inspections or cleaning of the extract ventilation.

Re-opening Premises

Once premises are allowed to re-open you are advised to carry out a full deep clean and disinfection of the premises and all equipment using appropriate cleaning products.

A few days before opening switch on fridges and/or freezers to make sure they are still working and to allow them to get to the correct working temperature (have a thermometer handy).

A full date check of all stock should also be made to ensure that nothing is out of date.

Food items should be labelled once they are taken out of the freezer with a date of defrost, defrosted in the fridge under temperature control and used within 24 hrs of defrost.

Check that you have enough cleaning products (handwash, sanitiser, paper towel etc).

Check that you have hot water from your taps.

Use your Safer food, better business (SFBB) to record what checks you have done.

It may be advisable not to overstock to begin with to allow time for trade to pick up.

Review you menu and allergy information to keep it up to date - will you still be able to buy the same products as before or if supplies have changed you may need to use different products/brands etc.

You may want to consider refresher food hygiene training or allergen training if you have been closed for some time or if you are employing any new staff.

Please do not hesitate to contact us on 01772 906907 or via email on info@preston.gov.uk for any further advice or help.