There are a few options food businesses can use when planning to offer delivery services. They can use delivery apps to increase their exposure to more consumers. Alternatively, they can choose to hire someone on staff to do deliveries, which also gives businesses greater control over the quality of service.
With any food delivery service comes specific safety concerns that businesses need to address. Minimise food safety risks related to transporting food and ensure safety standards are always met by following these best practices.
Keep food at the right temperature
Not only will customers be upset if their food arrives too cold, food kept at certain temperatures can increase the risk of causing a food-borne illness. The “Temperature Danger Zone” is the temperature range between 5°C and 60°C at which harmful bacteria can grow rapidly on food and cause food poisoning. Food should never be kept in the Temperature Danger Zone for longer than two hours. This means that customers should receive and eat or refrigerate their food before this time has passed.
When providing food delivery services, ensure that:
- insulated bags or coolers are used to transport food, keeping it at a safe temperature for longer
- a delivery range is in place so that food doesn’t have to travel to a distant location where keeping it at a safe temperature would be unrealistic
- there is a tracking system in place to track the delivery
Implement additional COVID-19 measures
Follow these food delivery guidelines during COVID-19, which include:
- following any masking rules that are implemented in your area, which could include ensuring delivery drivers wear masks when picking up food at the business and handing over food to customers
- ensuring delivery drivers: wash or sanitise their hands before picking up the delivery at the food business, apply hand sanitiser before handing over items to customers and wash their hands between deliveries
- properly sanitising bags used to transport food
- stapling the delivery receipt or writing out the delivery information on the outside of the food packaging to avoid confusion about the recipient
Choose the right packaging
The packaging used to hold and deliver food has a big impact on keeping food intact, appealing and fresh. Using the right packaging also helps minimise food safety risks. Here are a few materials a food business can use for packaging and factors to keep in mind for each option. Food businesses should choose the best option for the types of food they are transporting.
- Plastic materials are strong and durable, but do not hold moisture well. Keeping food in plastic packaging can lead to soggy dishes. Plastic packaging is also not very environmentally friendly.
- Styrofoam is inexpensive and a great material to help control the temperature of hot and cold foods, but is also not environmentally friendly.
- Aluminum foil is sealable, non-absorbent and holds heat well. However, aluminum foil cannot be used in the microwave and can be expensive.
- Biodegradable materials such as paper and cardboard can hold moist food for longer while also being cost-effective and easily customisable to the food business’s branding.
- Sustainable packaging such as recyclable glass bottles are often more expensive, but better for the environment; they can be very strong and durable depending on the material used.
Always follow food safety best practices
Building a strong culture of food safety within a food business goes a long way in preventing the spread of food-borne illness. Regardless of whether a business is providing dine-in, take-away or delivery services, all staff should follow these food safety best practices:
- follow correct hand washing procedures
- avoid handling food when sick
- store food and ingredients properly
- employ the proper time and temperature controls, including ensuring food is cooked to the right temperature and limiting the time food is kept in the Temperature Danger Zone
- follow proper cleaning and sanitising procedures, especially in high-touch areas
- avoid cross-contamination caused by biological, physical and chemical factors in the food business
Do regular inspections
Make sure these food safety standards are always followed. Food businesses should have someone on staff performing regular quality checks to ensure all guidelines are met. This person should be trained in food safety best practices and how to minimise food safety risks.