Food Safety Information – for Covid-19 Support Groups

In News by Nina Porter

As with all volunteer roles outside the home, volunteers handling food must be aware of the NHS guidance on preventing the spread of infection.

If your role is collecting food shopping from local shops and supermarkets then the guidelines regarding allergens are important.  You should also be aware of the guidance around transporting chilled food.

Allergens – You need to be careful that the person you are supporting is not allergic to any groups of foods that you might be including in either a prepared meal and/or any items you are delivering to them from the supermarket.  Accordingly, you need to:

  • ask the person if they have any allergies to food ingredients
  • ensure any allergy is written down and communicated to those volunteers preparing the food, or buying supermarket foods or delivering the food to ensure they are excluded
  • confirm to the person at the point of delivery that the food does not contain any of those allergenic ingredients
  • Additional information on allergens can be accessed through the FSA at https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/

If you are offering to deliver any form of cooked or prepared food then there are a number of additional things you need to consider, to  ensure that the food you are preparing and delivering is safe to eat:

  • the ingredients are within their expiry dates and are not at risk of causing a bacterial infection
  • foods that need refrigerating must be kept cool (ideally below 8 degrees C) while being transported through the use of a cool bag/insulated box
  • hot foods should be kept ideally above 63 degrees C and may also need to be packed in an insulated box
  • travel times are limited to less than 30 minutes

(The Food Standards Agency have issued guidance to businesses providing take away services. These are not applicable to making small scale numbers of meals for neighbours but a link to them is provided if you want more details  – see here

For further guidance please contact the Food and Safety Officer in the Environmental Health Team at Reigate & Banstead Borough Council via 01737 276417 or email food.safety@reigate-banstead.gov.uk