Skip to main content

Guidance for food businesses/caterers on providing a takeaway service

The following guidance is to provide food businesses with information on how to ensure that takeaway services are operated safely and avoid the risk of food poisoning.

This guide should be read alongside the advice from the Food Standards Agency.

Following reports of some food business delivery drivers not following government guidelines, the council is reminding businesses that provide a takeaway service to:

  • Put in place a drop-off system where the order is placed at the customer’s door and contact is made via the bell or phone whilst the driver or rider moves back from the order to allow for a two metre social space.  Food should not be left unattended.
  • Ensure payment for takeaway delivery is made at the time of the telephone order, removing the need for payment on delivery.
  • Ensure drivers and or riders hand wash or sanitise before and after collection as they could cross contaminate between the restaurant and the customer.
  • Provide the driver with alcohol hand sanitiser with an alcohol content of at least 60+%.

As set out in updated government guidance, Social distancing also needs to be followed in takeaway premises:

  • Shops should ensure that no orders are taken in person on the premises.
  • Shops should only take orders online or by telephone and communicate this to customers by clear signage in store and online.
  • Where customers are collecting items, they should have staggered collection times and adopt a one-in-one-out policy.
  • Where queuing is taking place, a queue management system should be in place to maintain a safe distance, ensuring the two metre distancing requirement is applied.
  • No goods or food should be physically handed over to the customer.

The council is recommencing businesses put up signage in their premises. Some suggested wording is as follows:

Social distancing. To protect our customers and staff at this time, we are actively managing the number of customers who can come into our premises at any one time. Please make sure you stand two metres apart using the marked lines on the floor. When at the front wait behind the line until called forward. Thank you for your understanding and co-operation.

Steps to consider - more information

Select foods that are not high risk and are capable of being transported under temperature control more efficiently e.g. foods that are capable of cooking to very high temperatures and dense enough to hold those temperatures for longer.

Avoid lightly cooked food.

Keep the menu simple and avoid complex dishes or too wide a selection.

When taking telephone orders, ask the customer what allergen requirements they may have and ensure that you have the correct controls in place if you agree to provide an allergen free meal.

Information must be given to the consumer on what they need to do to ensure that your takeaway remains safe to eat once it has been delivered.

For example: for immediate consumption, whether is it safe to reheat or freeze and how to do this, how to defrost and reheat.

It is strongly advised that takeaway meals are not provided as ready meals for storage and reheating at home and therefore bulk ordering is not advised.

You must ensure that you follow correct allergen control procedures and provide accurate information to the consumer.

See allergen guidance for food businesses on the Food Standards Agency website for guidance on allergens for food businesses in the retail and catering industry.

This includes advice on providing information on 14 allergens and handling allergens in the kitchen.

Ensure that all cooked food is thoroughly cooked all the way through. Check that food is bubbling, that juices run clear and that there is no visible blood.

You are advised to use a cleaned calibrated probe thermometer to make sure that the food reaches at least 70℃ for two minutes or 75℃ for 30 seconds or equivalent time/temperature combination.

Hot boxes/cool boxes and containers used to transport food must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before and after use.

Hot soapy water using a fresh cloth followed by using a food safe sanitiser that meets BS EN 1276:2009 should be used, ensuring the correct contact time of the sanitiser (this should be on the sanitiser bottle). Ideally use disposable paper towel/roll for cleaning surfaces.

The temperature of food must be controlled to ensure that harmful bacteria will not grow.

To maintain safe food temperatures you must consider the time it takes to portion/pack the food and the travel time during delivery. Hot food must be held at 63℃ or above.

Food can fall below 63℃ for one period of up to two hours only during service or display.

Cold foods must be held below 8℃ to keep them safe, ideally between 0-5℃ during service or display.

Cold food can be held above 8℃ for one period of up to four hours.

Regardless of whether you use these exemptions you must not serve food that has become unsafe. Keeping a fridge thermometer in the cool box to monitor temperatures is advised.

The use of insulated cool boxes/bags with ice packs or insulated hot boxes will help comply with the requirements.

Takeaway food packaging/containers must be purchased from reputable suppliers and be food grade suitable for its intended use e.g. hot food/lidded and must be stored in a clean area to avoid contamination.

All food handlers must have a high degree of personal hygiene.

Regular and thorough handwashing must take place before handling food, after handling raw food, after using the toilet, after handling bins, after touching your face.

Clean, protective clothing should be worn when preparing food.

Food handlers must be excluded from working with food when they have symptoms of diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea or abdominal pain.

Food handlers who are ill or showing symptoms must be excluded from work for 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped.

Food business operators must put in place all adequate controls to ensure that the food you serve is safe and not exposed to harmful contamination.

Introducing a new service, such as a takeaway service, must the carefully planned and details of how you will put safe food safety controls into practice must be recorded in your written food safety management plan.

For specific guidance on infection control in relation to Coronavirus (COVI-19) go to

If you are undertaking deliveries, then you should have a system in place so that customers can notify the premises/delivery driver if they are self-isolating so that the appropriate action can be taken.

Food must be labelled so that it is easy to understand.

Customers must be given:

  • the name of the food
  • a list of ingredients that contain any of the 14 allergens (nuts, peanuts, eggs, milk, fish, crustaceans, molluscs, cereals containing gluten, celery, lupin, mustard, sesame seeds, soya, sulphites) to inform those with food allergies
  • a Use By date (follow manufacturer's instructions on the use by labels or a maximum of three days including the date made)
  • cooking/reheating instructions if applicable
  • storage instructions.

Limiting contact when delivering orders will help keep everyone healthy.

You should consider leaving deliveries at the door of your customer, rather than handing it over to them.

Knock on the door, step back at least two metres and wait nearby for the customer to collect it.

Take payments over the phone or internet rather than taking cash.

For further details contact: Food and Occupational Health Team
Telephone: 01900 702580
Address: Cumberland Council, Allerdale House, Workington, Cumbria, CA14 3YJ

<< Back to Coronavirus: Information and advice for businesses