Food Alert has received hundreds of calls to its free helpline since the announcement of the UK’s second lockdown, with operators’ attention moving on from COVID-19 compliance to allergen management and nutritional labelling.
The top three concerns include preparing for next October’s Natasha’s Law, new food nutrition requirements and food safety guidance around take-away / home kits. This has changed from March, when Covid hygiene, training and PPE were the key concerns for operators.
“Working in hospitality is stressful at the best of times, but the pandemic has delivered so many additional challenges, with compliance being a huge burden. However, what we have seen in this second lockdown is a change in narrative, with operators now having key measures in place to manage the COVID-19 restrictions so they can reopen at short notice, but also being prepared for the new legislation due in 2021,” said Food Alert’s managing director, David Bashford.
With this round of lockdown due to come to an end on 2nd December, Food Alert is advising operators to use what time is left during November to get on top of new legislation, such as Natasha’s Law, as well as general maintenance and housekeeping so that they are ready to reopen.
“March’s lockdown was very swift and didn’t give venues enough time to prepare. But we know that those that used the time wisely to get jobs done were best placed to open their doors at a moment’s notice,” added David.
As well as lapsed in-house checks, inspection schedules may also have drifted as a result of forced closures. For many venues it has not been possible to have the relevant engineers onsite to carry out inspections such as fire alarms, asbestos surveys and legionella checks.
“These inspections and checks are essential for protecting the health and safety of customers and employees and it’s important to get them back on track,” advises David. “Overdue inspections should be booked as a matter of urgency and we recommend plans should be made to avoid future delays, such as staggering inspections to ensure there are always items available for use.”
Following these tips will make sure that venues can reopen their doors quickly and safely with all the right compliance checks in place when the time is right.