Big changes ahead for Falkirk's restaurants as lockdown is eased

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has published a risk assessment guide for food production firms and food sellers who are hopefully preparing to re-open their businesses.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 4:30 pm

The national consumer protection organisation produced an updated risk assessment tool for food production firms, shops and supermarkets and restaurants to enable them to safely restart their businesses once restrictions are eased.

The FSS guide comes as the organisation’s English equivalent the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published a report entitled Food and You 2 about members of the public’s attitudes and behaviours regarding food safety and food-related issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The key findings of the FSA survey were, 73 per cent of respondents said they had changed their eating habits in the last 12 months due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Food Standards Scotland is doing its bit to help ensure the food we eat is as safe as possible during these COVID-19 times

It also found 92 per cent of people reported they had confidence the food they buy is safe to eat, while 79 per cent had confidence in the food supply chain.

Respondents had more confidence in food they sourced from farmers, 90 per cent, and supermarkets, 86 per cent, than in takeaways, 51 per cent, and food delivery services, 39 per cent.

While the FSS did not carry out a similar survey, it has provided information to assist organisations in the production, retail and restaurant trade.

An FSS spokesperson said: “This tool will assist those food businesses which are already operating, in identifying, reviewing and maintaining the changes they will need to make to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across their operations.”

In line with Scottish Government advice, all food businesses are required to follow the FACTS guidelines regarding facemasks and ensure physical distancing is adhered to throughout the workplace.

Good hygiene, of course, is essential in any food related business and even more so nowadays.

The two metre rule should also be applied wherever possible and, lastly, management and members of staff themselves must ensure they self-isolate and get tested if they have any of the COVID-19 symptoms.

“For many businesses this will involve making changes to workflow and procedures,” said the FSS spokesperson. “It is critical to ensure these do not compromise food safety, and that you are able to maintain compliance with food law requirements.

“Similar to your Food Safety Management System, the measures you will need to take, and the documentation for recording these measures, should be commensurate with the nature and size of your food business.

"You should prepare your own risk assessment with reference to the COVID-19 guidance produced by Food Standards Scotland, as well as Scottish Government’s sector guidance for easing lockdown.

“It is important to provide as much information as possible as evidence to demonstrate to your staff, as well as trade unions, local authorities and government officials you have considered the potential COVID-19 risks associated with your business, taken appropriate mitigation measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and considered any impacts on your ability to ensure the safety and standards of your products.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic is an evolving situation, it will be important to review your risk assessment and Food Safety Management Systems regularly and make changes as appropriate, to take account of any changes to your own circumstances, as well as new government advice and scientific evidence.”

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