The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has released guidance for food businesses planning to reopen in Phase 3 of the Government's Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business

The FSAI advises business owners that they must follow:

Return to Work Safely Protocol: COVID-19 Specific National Protocol for Employers and Workers (DBEI) insofar as it applies to your business.

COVID-19 Information Booklet for the prevention of COVID-19 (HSE) in addition to your food safety obligations.

As ever, food business owners "must ensure that the food you intend to place on the market is safe and your business is compliant with the food law that applies to your business".

The FSAI's General Requirements for food safety and reopening also point to some checks and tasks that business owners should complete prior to reopening:

  • Check that your food safety management system is up to date and includes any changes you have made to your processes/procedures due to closing and reopening and in line with Covid-19 measures.
  • If you have been closed for a period of time, your food safety management system review should include a pest control check, a stock check for out of date stock and to instigate proper stock rotation, an equipment services check and finally a deep clean of all food contact surfaces, equipment and utensils, less frequently cleaned areas such as walls, all touch points, including door handles, handrails, tables and chairs etc, public toilets, bathroom sinks and sanitary facilities.
  • Have there been any changes in your food business since the last time you were open? Are you changing how you work? Do you have new pre-requisites, process flows, processes or activities? Have you updated your food safety management system to ensure any risks associated with these new processes or activities are controlled?
  • Check with your suppliers to see if they are operating as before and whether they can supply you with the same ingredients/products. Do you have new suppliers for some ingredients? If so, there may be different allergens in the ingredients.
  • Do you need to include additional cleaning measures (for example, more frequent cleaning of touch points, communal areas, etc.) into your cleaning programme?
  • Do you need additional handwashing/sanitising facilities for staff/customers?

The FSAI also reminds food business owners that they must adhere to Social Distancing Requirements. This includes staff, customers, delivery personnel or other visitors. More information on the social distancing requirements is available from the HSE, Return to Work Safely Protocol (DBEI/HSA) Covid-19 Retail Protection and Improvement Guide (NSAI) and COVID-19 and Food Safety: Guidance for Food Businesses (WHO).

Before returning to work, you must follow the Return to Work Safely Protocol regarding your responsibility to staff and their individual responsibilities. In addition, you must ensure all staff, returning, new or temporary, are trained to their level of responsibility in relation to food safety and hygiene. Refresher training might be needed. See FSAI Training Guides.

Train staff on the new procedures you are putting in place and what they need to do when you reopen regarding Covid-19, social distancing and fitness to work policy, the wearing of personal protective equipment, cleaning and sanitation.

Also are segregation and cleaning procedures in place in case you or one of your staff become ill while at work?