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Council ‘Here to Help’ food businesses

21 August 2020

Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Environmental Health Food team has been busy reaching out to food businesses and offering support and assistance during COVID 19.

The team is working with the Food Standards Agency to promote their Here to Help campaign by sharing practical steps and tips businesses can take to operate safely and stay compliant.

Genevieve McWillliams, Principal Environmental Health Officer with Derry City and Strabane District Council said the pandemic has put enormous pressures on food businesses and many established food businesses have diversified into food delivery, takeaway or online sales in order to continue operating. There is also evidence to show a marked increase in the number of people cooking from home and selling food locally or online.

Working with the Food Standards Agency, the Council is sharing its Here to Help guide for small food businesses such as restaurants, takeaways and coffee shops, to make the hygiene processes and requirements they must follow clear as they develop new ways of working.

Genevieve McWilliams says the guide is a fantastic resource in answering any questions local businesses have in relation to operating under the current climate.

“COVID-19 has been an extremely challenging time for the food industry locally and many of our food businesses are having to change the way they trade in order to survive. Thanks to the support of the Food Standards Agency through the Here to Help campaign we have been able to share this toolkit with food businesses and help offer them advice and support.”

Michael Jackson from the Food Standards Agency said: “‘It remains really important for businesses to understand the possibility of additional food safety risks as a result of the changes they have made and the steps they must take to protect their customers. Our Here to Help campaign aims to support businesses in getting this right, to ensure consumers continue to have access to food that is safe.”

Here to help has useful advice on a range of issues such as the provision of allergen information, safe food packaging and takeaway containers and ensuring delivery drivers follow food hygiene rules. It also highlights the legal obligation for anyone selling, cooking, storing, handling, preparing or distributing food, to register their business with the Council.

The campaign will be supported by a series of case studies featuring small businesses and sharing industry expertise. It will look at how they have managed the transition to new operating models and the challenges they have come up against.

Food Standards Agency advice is clear that it remains very unlikely that people can catch COVID-19 from food. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and not known to be transmitted by exposure to food or food packaging. We are continuing to work closely with industry and other partners to ensure the UK food supply remains safe.

Details of the Here to Help Campaign is available at - www.food.gov.uk

For more information from the Council food team visit - https://www.derrystrabane.com/environmentalhealth/food

Anyone who has any queries or is looking for advice should contact the Council’s food team at [email protected] or Tel. 028 71 253253.