If you are currently a community or voluntary group or are thinking of setting one up to assist your community during the coronavirus outbreak, either by making food to deliver to people's homes or for them to collect, please do this whilst adhering to good hygiene practices. Preston City Council is here to support you in doing this safely.
During this difficult time we are here to help you help your communities.
Please contact us if you have just started or are thinking of helping out by making or delivering food, so that we help you to do this safely either via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01772 906907
These are some tips on providing safe food whilst also ensuring that volunteers and members of the public are safe. In addition to reading these tips we would urge you to also contact us either via email or on the telephone number above:
Questions to ask when contacting people in the community
- You should have a procedure in place at the point of contact with the vulnerable person, to establish whether a person is shielding, self-isolating or ill. The procedure should include how this information is communicated to all drivers and/or riders to minimise the risk to them of COVID-19 transmission.
- When a vulnerable person or family is contacted, you should also ask them if they, or any of their household has any allergies or intolerances. If they do, make a record of their specific needs. Ensure this information is communicated clearly to anyone who is involved with the receipt, storage, assembly and delivery of their food parcels or products.
- If an individual or member of the household has any allergies or intolerances ensure you clearly label the food parcel or product with the relevant information to avoid any mistakes being made. You may want to consider a different coloured bag or container for those people/households with allergies or intolerances to reduce the risk of there being any mistakes.
- Allergic reactions to ingredients can be fatal. Please see the food standards agency website for further information allergen guidance for businesses. There are other common allergens which are not stipulated in legislation such as kiwis, strawberries, peppers and mushrooms etc. But some people have very unusual allergies or intolerances, so it is always best to ask
Setting up the food assembly area and provision of equipment
Ensure any tables or worktops used for preparation or assembly of food are large enough to be able to implement the 2 metre social distancing. It is recommended that markers are provided on the floor 2-meters apart.
If the work areas is not large enough to adhere to social distancing then have separate tables or use separate worktops.
Volunteers should be provided with their own disposable aprons and gloves for use when assembling food parcels or food products (which need to be changed regularly), in addition to regular hand washing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds.
Hand washing and cleaning procedures
See the NHS link on how to wash your hands.
Hands should be washed;
- On arrival at the premises
- On entering any food preparation or assembly areas
- Before handling any food
- After touching hand contact surfaces such as handrails, door handles
- Always after using the toilet or going into the toilet areas
- After touching your face, sneezing or coughing
- In between ALL tasks
- After cleaning
- After smoking
- After handling any food or other packaging and cleaning supplies
- After removing gloves and aprons and before putting on new ones
- Any time your hands are contaminated
- After touching rubbish
- Where possible any doors throughout the premises should be lodged open, unless they are fire doors. This is to reduce any unnecessary contact with any hand contact surfaces, such as door handles
- The following surfaces need to be cleaned regularly using a disinfectant spray or detergent with hot water and a disposable cloth/kitchen roll:
- Tables or work surfaces prior to and after food preparation and or assembly
- Someone needs to be given the responsibility of regularly wiping down any hand contact services that may have been touched, including doors, handles and taps etc. It is also recommended that gloves are worn
- Regular breaks should be taken so that thorough hand washing can be carried out and aprons and gloves can be removed and changed - hand washing posters could be displayed in the w.c and other staff areas where hand washing will take place
- The pens used for labelling of food parcels/bags etc. should be used by the same person throughout the day. They should be from a new box if possible, or cleaned down prior to use with a sanitiser or detergent and hot water
Considerations for food preparation, collection or receipt
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has some useful information if you are producing food - FSA Safer food better business - but we would urge you to contact us if you are producing food.
- Make sure you obtain any ingredients or final food products from reputable suppliers
- Make sure the food you buy is within its use by date
- If collecting or accepting food items, wear gloves and use an appropriate hand sanitiser after accepting the food and when you leave the shop / food premises. If these are not available then you need to wash your hands with soap and hot water for 20 seconds as soon as possible, then dry with a disposable towels.
- Any food packets collected or received should be wiped down with a disinfectant spray or detergent and hot water
- If food needs to be refrigerated or frozen and it is not to be used in food preparation straight away then put it in the fridge or freezer as soon as possible
- Wear an apron to protect the food from you if handling and preparing open food
- Wash your hands before preparing any food and regularly throughout food preparation
- Do not handle food more than you need to
- If handling raw meat, try and do this on a different surface to the surface that is to be used for preparing food that is going to be eaten without cooking. Also try and use different utensils for raw meat and cooked or ready to eat foods if possible. If this is not possible make sure they are thoroughly cleaned in-between uses. This way you will avoid cross-contamination of food poisoning bacteria.
- Ensure food is cooked properly by cutting into any meat, ensuring that it is not pink or red
- Ensure the food preparation areas and equipment are thoroughly cleaned throughout the day and a good clean is undertaken at the end of the day.
Delivery of food parcels or products
- Once the food products are ready to be delivered, each person should be provided with a copy of the information sheet .
- Consider what containers or bags are to be used for putting the food in. Consider double bagging where possible or use boxes. The food bags or parcels could be labelled with the name and address of the shielded/vulnerable person
- Make sure you transport the ingredients in a clean vehicle and all food is bagged or in containers. The food parcel or package should be placed in a designated area of the vehicle. You could place a clean plastic cover on the back seat of your car or in your boot, as plastic can be wiped over with disinfectant spray or detergent and hot water
- If food is to be delivered hot then you need to look at ways of keeping it warm, for example in insulated boxes.
- If food is to be cooled down to be delivered later then it should be cooled within 1.5 hours. Portioning the food into separate containers will reduce the cooling time.
- If food is to be delivered cold then you need to look at ways of keeping it cold, for example using insulated boxes with ice packs.
Social distancing needs to be adhered to even if someone is not exhibiting any symptoms. You could consider leaving deliveries at the door of your customer, rather than handing it over to them. Knock on the door, then step back at least 2 metres and wait nearby for your customer to collect it. If people are coming to collect the food then ensure that the 2 metres social distancing rule is adhered to, this can be done with markers on the ground or similar.
We have designed a GOV.UK - Guidance on social distancing
that we recommend you display in a prominent position for anyone working at the community/voluntary centre, and if customers are to visit your premises to pick up food. There is also government guidance for social distancing. For details visit
Exclusion guidance if you become ill with COVID-19 symptoms or if someone in your household has symptoms
Any volunteers should be aware of current coronavirus exclusion guidance and follow the government guidance at GOV.UK - COVID-19 stay at home guidance. If during the course of the volunteering work they develop any symptoms then they need to isolate themselves immediately and inform other volunteers.
Actions to be taken by volunteers at the end of their shifts
- Information should be provided to all those volunteers on the actions to be taken when they leave for the day, in relation to decontamination of themselves and their vehicles. Each person should be provided with a copy of the information sheet .
- Clothing is a potential source of COVID-19 transmission. All clothing should be washed at temperatures above 60°C or higher. If you are unable to wash items immediately, leave in a sealed bag for at least three days and wash as normal.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water rubbing vigorously when you arrive home.
- Clean your car door handles, steering wheel, gear stick, handbrake, seatbelt buckle and car keys and any other hand contact surfaces with a disinfectant spray or detergent and hot water and a disposable cloth. If you have a plastic liner or sheet in your car then you should also wipe this down.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds and then take a full shower and wash your hair well, as the virus can attach to clothes and hair
Existing food businesses should view our Coronavirus advice for food businesses.