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FSA on managing a rapid shutdown

FSA guidance on managing a rapid shutdown

Although many of you will be changing the way you trade if you are currently in lock down, you may be having to close your operation temporarily.

The FSA put this useful document together to support you in making sure you have everything covered if you are closing for an extended period of time from a food safety point of view.

Managing stock safety

In instances where you are required to temporarily cease operations, you will need to consider your capacity to safely store raw materials, ingredients and consumables for the closure period.

Raw materials, ingredients and products

  • Temperature control – You should assess your stocks to ensure you have sufficient temperature-controlled storage space for all chilled and frozen foods. You should continue to maintain appropriate monitoring records. If you cannot guarantee the temperature control of products, you should consider alternative arrangements. This could include sending stock to appropriate storage facilities.
  • Durability – When you re-open you will not be able to use foods which have passed their use-by date. You should assess your stocks as it may be possible to freeze items in-order to extend life. We have guidance on the bulk freezing of ambient and chilled foods.
  • Hygiene – You will need to ensure that foods can be stored safely and hygienically. Be sure to avoid allergen cross-contamination during storage.
  • Pest control – It is essential to keep pests out of your premises. You may need to contact your contractor and review programmed inspections during the closure period. We have guidance on pest control for caterers and small retailers
  • Finished product – Food manufacturers and slaughterhouses may have finished product awaiting haulage to customers. You will need to assess whether removal of product can be undertaken safely during the closure period. This could include where the product is packed and palleted before dispatch.
  • Foods held in staff canteen, restaurants or welfare areas – You will need to consider the safe and hygienic storage of any food ingredients and products. This should include temperature controls, assessment of durability and pest control.
  • Redistribution of surplus ingredients or products – Where storage is not suitable or possible, you can consider re-distribution. WRAP provide guidance on foods suitable for redistribution, and specific guidance on the labelling of foods, in their redistribution checklist 
  • Deliveries – Where necessary, you should contact suppliers and cancel deliveries which will no longer be required during the closure period.
  • Live animal delivery – Slaughterhouses will need to instigate their existing emergency procedures to halt deliveries of live animals. This should be done in a way which ensures that the welfare needs of animals are met.
  • Live animals on site – You should make arrangements to ensure that any live animals which cannot be slaughtered are moved to alternative, suitable facilities for slaughter. You should first consult with the appropriate official control bodies and obtain the necessary permissions.

Consumables (including packaging)

  • Storage facilities should remain secure during the closure period. This is particularly important for any chemicals held on site.
  • Hygienic storage must be maintained for all food contact and food packaging materials.
  • Pest control programmes should include all storage areas.

Plant and machinery

You should follow your normal shut-down cleaning procedures before any rapid shut-down of machinery and equipment takes place. Appropriate cleaning and disinfection of equipment and surfaces should be undertaken. In order to facilitate a rapid shut-down, non-critical cleaning of equipment should be done before re-opening, not at the shut-down stage. 

Waste collection

You should contact your waste contractor and arrange for collection of general waste as soon as practicable. You should avoid accumulation of waste on site as this will reduce additional issues such as pest infestation. 

Businesses generating animal by-products (ABP) should not allow accumulation or undue delay of disposal. You should follow your normal procedures, using an approved premises. You should ensure that the categorisation of ABPs are maintained and appropriate records are kept.

Caretaking operations during shutdown

Once appropriate cleaning procedures have been implemented, it should be possible for businesses to undertake on-going ‘caretaking’ responsibilities. These actions should be related to food safety and hygiene, where a safe process for doing so can be followed. This could include: 

  • Freezers and chilled stores – Where this equipment continues to operate to store raw materials, ingredients, or products, you will need to be able to monitor operating temperatures. You may be able to do this remotely and may have alarm procedures in place. Alternatively, such monitoring may need to be undertaken on site.
  • Maintenance – It may be possible for maintenance of buildings, site and machinery to take place using contractors or staff who are not required to self-isolate.
  • Pest control – It should be possible to continue with your normal or a reduced schedule if pest control is provided by contractors.

Where a site is to be left empty, appropriate security measures to prevent unauthorised access should be considered.

Staff communications and training

Staff training on your emergency procedures, business continuity or contingency plans should be in proportion to duties and responsibilities. You may need to update this training to include rapid shut-down procedures adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

You will need to ensure your communications with staff are appropriate to allow a safe return to work process, when advised it is safe to do so following a rapid shut-down.

If you need any information on any of this guidance, please get in touch with us

Other useful information including The re-opening checklist  & Deliveries, collections & takeaways guide can be found here