Advice for Food Businesses

Council's Environmental Health Unit has been receiving queries regarding the food business home delivery during the pandemic COVID-19. Please see the below advice for food businesses in Whitsunday Region in regards to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

  1. Can I get sick with COVID-19 from touching food, the food packaging, or good contact surfaces, if the coronavirus was present on it?

Transmission through food is unlikely and there is no evidence of this occurring with COVID-19 to date, however investigations into how the virus spreads are continuing.

 Currently, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food or its packaging. This is also supported by Australia and New Zealand’s Food Standards Agency, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, the European Food Safety Authority, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the German Federal Institute for Risk AssessmentLike other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or object. For that reason, it is critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety – clean, separate, cook, and chill.

  1. How long does COVID-19 last on surfaces?

According to the World Health Organization, it is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

If you think a surface may be contaminated, clean it with a common household disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

  1. What should a food business do to protect against coronavirus?

All food business are required to follow the requirements of 3.2.2 and 3.2.3 of the Food Safety Standards. Food businesses can continue to practice good food handling hygiene. A food handler should already wash their hands:

  • before starting work
  • before handling cooked or ready-to-eat food
  •  after handling or preparing raw food
  • after handling waste
  • after cleaning duties
  • after using the toilet
  • after blowing nose, sneezing or coughing
  • after eating drinking or smoking
  • after handling money 

Be aware of how used dishes are collected from a table. Minimising the risk of cross contamination by avoiding touching areas that have been in direct contact with the customer or food. More frequent cleaning of shared surfaces, this could include door handles (front door, fridge/freezers, toilets/bathrooms), tables and chairs (arm rests or areas used to pull out the chair) salt and pepper shakers, sugar bowls, communal cutlery containers, eftpos keypad.

  1. Do you require to apply for another Food Business Licence to conduct home delivery services?

If you are holding an active food business licence (only for food business licence category 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6), you are allowed to conduct home delivery. However, you are required to follow the requirements of 3.2.2 and 3.2.3 of the Food Safety Standards including requirements such as packaging used for takeaway, temperature control during delivery. If you require further information please contact the Council Environmental Health Unit on 07 4945 0242.

  1. How do you control the temperature of food?

To reduce food safety risk, perishable and ready-to-eat food should be kept cool (below 5°C) or hot (above 60°C) during transport. If your business is involved in home delivery, you should develop documented procedures.

Keep stocked food delivery storage trolleys in the coolest part of the business. Stocked trolleys should not be stored alongside windows that are exposed to the sun or near heat-generating sources, such as ovens or heaters. Even refrigerators and freezers can generate heat. If it is not possible to keep a stocked delivery storage trolley cool, food must be refrigerated before delivery. Ice blocks can also be used to keep food below 5°C.

Note that a system of taking and recording temperature during transport should be one of the businesses documented procedures.

  1. What is the total delivery time?

Total delivery time is from the time of purchase at the store to the time customers receive the delivery at their home. Unless the food is kept at cool (below 5°C) or hot (above 60°C) temperatures at the food business before delivery, or if ice bricks or insulation are used, the total delivery time for perishable or ready-to-eat food should not exceed 4 hours. Transportation time should be less than 30 minutes.

Keeping records of transport times and temperatures is recommended to demonstrate that potentially hazardous food has been kept safe during transport.

  1. What if the customer is not at home?

If customers are not at home at the time of delivery, do not leave food unattended unless arrangements have been made with the customer. The customer should be advised that the safety of food cannot be guaranteed if it has been left unattended.

  1. What is your responsibility as home delivery drivers?

Anyone handling, preparing and serving food should always follow safe food handling procedures, such as washing hands and surfaces often. As an added precaution, if you have suspected symptoms of respiratory illness you should avoid preparing or transport food for other people and seek medical attention. 

Home delivery drivers should:

  • wash hands before and after handling or delivering food
  • keep 1.5 metre apart with the customer
  • prevent damage to packaging or bruising of food
  • implement documented procedures if unexpected delays due to vehicle breakdown, traffic congestion or traffic accidents occur
  • not leave food unattended at the customer’s home unless arrangements have been made with the customer to do so
  • communicate with customers about delivery times. Advise how long the delivery will take or the expected delivery time, and arrange a specific time for delivery
  • advise that there should be someone at home at the time of delivery. If this is not possible, ensure the customers know that the safety of the food cannot be guaranteed if it is left unattended

Council offers free Online Food Safety Training, to assist food handlers in developing the required skills and knowledge to ensure food is handled in a safe and hygienic manner.

Generally, Food businesses should continue to practice good hygiene as required in food safety standards, including:

  • cleaning and sanitising, particularly all food contact surfaces
  • thorough and frequent handwashing
  • taking all practicable measures to prevent food contamination by food handlers

  •  Does my food business need to complete a COVID Safe Checklist?
Businesses that are providing dining-in for customers, such as restaurants, cafes, pubs, RSLs, clubs and hotels are required to complete and comply with the COVID Safe Checklist. COVID Safe Checklist can be found if you click here.

  • Does my food business need to keep a record of customer details?
Yes, contact information must be kept for dine in customers, workers and any contractors for a period of at least 28 days. The information that needs to be recorded is their name, address and mobile phone number. Ensure records are only used for the purpose of tracing COVID-19 infections and are captured and stored confidently and securely. 

For more information, please contact:

If you require further information about food licencing, please do not hesitate to contact Council Environmental Health Unit on 07 4945 0242.

  1. P  1300 WRC QLD (1300 972 753)

    67 Herbert Street, Bowen
    Shop 23 Whitsunday Plaza, Cannonvale
    Cnr. Stanley and Conway Streets, Collinsville
    83 - 85 Main Street, Proserpine
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