Hopefully, by now, we all know what we all need to continue to do to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. The government has given guidance on self-isolation, staying at home and away from others. In late March the government stepped up its measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and save lives. It decreed that several business sectors must close, without exception. Today, we spotlight a sector that does not seem to have had much coverage.
The government stated on 23 March that restaurants, food delivery and takeaway premises can continue to operate for the provision of hot or cold food that has been prepared for consumers for collection or delivery to be consumed, reheated or cooked by consumers off the premises. So many people have been hugely grateful that they are still able to access their favourite restaurants and takeaways!
Under normal circumstances, restaurants and takeaways are an enjoyable and accessible alternative for people who may not have been able to get to the shops in time or been able to buy particular products in supermarkets to make meals at home. In addition, visiting our favourite restaurant or ordering yourself and your family a takeaway such as a curry, fish and chips, a pizza, burger or kebab is something that we look forward to as a reward for a job well done, as a celebration for a special occasion or just simply as a well-deserved rest from cooking!
Going to our favourite restaurant or ordering takeaway is generally a positive experience and makes us feel good.
Recreating that feeling is never more important than now, during lockdown, when people are becoming frustrated and tempers frayed with some of the restrictions being placed on us: being unable to leave the home except for essential travel, having to queue for food in supermarkets, being unable to socialise with friends and family, having to work from home and look after children.
Still being able to take a break from cooking, to treat ourselves and our family, to celebrate special occasions and to reward ourselves and others with a takeaway from our favourite restaurant or food delivery premises can have a hugely positive effect on our mental wellbeing during the lockdown.
In addition, our continued use of restaurants and takeaways means that we are helping to keep those businesses operating, in what are very tough and uncertain economic and trading circumstances. Using these outlets also helps to create and strengthen our sense of community: local businesses continuing to service the needs of their community and local residents continuing to support their community businesses.
While recognising that this community cohesion helps to counter the ill-effects of lockdown, we must remain vigilant that food preparation and delivery does not contravene the food hygiene and social distancing practices already in place.
The Food Standards Agency provides useful guidance on food safety information for businesses that deliver meals to customers, particularly for those pubs or restaurants that now operate as hot food and drink takeaways. The four main areas for good hygiene in your food business are known as ‘The 4Cs’ - cleaning, cooking, chilling and avoiding cross-contamination.
In addition, food businesses need to tell customers if food they provide contains any of the specified allergens as an ingredient. All food must be delivered to consumers in a way that ensures that it does not become unsafe or unfit to eat.
Many people will be familiar with the term ‘food hygiene rating’. This reflects the standards of food hygiene found on the date of the inspection by the local authority. However, it is important to note that the food hygiene rating is not a guide to food quality.
To complement and reinforce the guidance of the Food Standards Agency, many of the websites that promote food delivery, such as Just Eat, Uber Eats and Deliveroo, are offering clear and helpful best practice guidance and information to its partners around staff welfare, hygiene, packaging, storage and safe delivery during the Covid-19 restrictions.
Enjoy your takeaway! Stay safe!