COVID-19 has caused severe disruption to the restaurant and hospitality trade, with many businesses turning to take-outs as a means of replacing lost revenue.
In some cases, take-outs have proved to be such a success that restaurants are seeking to maintain the service once the world gets back to normal.
However, deliveries bring with them a host of food safety problems that need to be addressed if foodborne illnesses are to be prevented. So in this blog, we are going to look at ways you can maintain food hygiene standards for your take-out menu and delivery service.
1. Create a delivery friendly menu
The first and most important step in maintaining food hygiene for deliveries is to make sure your menu is delivery friendly because the fact is some foods travel better than others.
Start by checking your menu for items that won’t travel well, such as lobster, delicately cooked fish and ornate frozen desserts. You don’t have to stop serving these items in your restaurant, but you may wish to mark them as ‘not suitable for delivery’.
If you want to build your take-out business, it may be worthwhile creating more delivery friendly options from the start rather than adapting current menu items. In this case, try to add foods that are easy to eat in a relaxed setting, such as noodles or barbecue dishes.
2. Ensure food is kept at the right temperature
With your menu sorted, it’s time to think about how food will be stored before and during delivery. Start by identifying foods where cross-contamination is a risk during delivery, such as sauces, gravies and relishes.
These items should be packaged in sealed containers to prevent spillage. It’s worthwhile spending a little extra on good containers for this purpose. These will help keep food at the right temperature, but they will also help preserve delicate flavours.
Hot foods should then be separated from chilled foods and stored in insulated boxes to keep them at the right temperature. During delivery, hot and cold items should be marked and kept in separate insulated bags.
3. Maintain order accuracy
Maintaining order accuracy is not only critical to the success of your take-out business it is vital for safety as well. The last thing you want is a customer with a food allergy receiving the wrong order.
So, make sure you have robust systems in place to maintain order accuracy at all times. Standard restaurant practices apply here. Use colour-coded tabs to denote special menu requests and ensure individual orders are kept separate from each other.
When the driver arrives for collection, treat them the same way you would for service. Double-check the order for accuracy, make sure the food is properly presented and confirm the name of the order before allowing it to leave.
4. Double down on kitchen cleaning
Take-outs are no excuse for cutting back on kitchen hygiene. You should double down on your cleaning because it can get pretty hectic in the kitchen managing takeouts along with your regular service menu.
So, make sure all kitchen staff have the appropriate food handling certificate and are trained to handle food correctly. You should also implement cleaning throughout the shift rather than at the end.
A cleaning checklist to highlight good hygiene practices can help. You should also install colour-coded bins for food waste, linens and laundry items. This will ensure the right waste is put in the right bin during a hectic shift.
5. Monitor employee hygiene
All restaurants should implement basic food safety protocols to ensure food is handled and stored safely, but merely putting these protocols in place is not enough. You also need to monitor staff to ensure they are being properly implemented.
Regular checks should be carried out by a trained food safety supervisor to ensure all kitchen staff are wearing the correct uniform and hygiene equipment and that they are maintaining good hygiene standards during food preparation.
This will help you identify problem areas and put measures to prevent them from happening in the future. If necessary, any staff who are found to be regularly breaking the rules should be assessed for further food safety training.
Need help with your food hygiene?
At the Australian Institute of Accreditation, we provide a range of online food safety courses for the retail and hospitality industry. These are accessed from our learning management platform which allows students to learn at their own pace.
Once completed, all students are issued with an accredited food handling certificate, which proves they can prepare and serve food correctly. Check out our range of courses here or complete the contact form here for more details.