Government advice on Food and Food Handling for Covid-19 crisis

What you need to know about coronavirus and food

  • It is very unlikely that you can catch coronavirus (COVID-19) from food.
  • Cooking thoroughly will kill the virus.
  • COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. It is not known to be transmitted by exposure to food or food packaging.
  • Everyone should wash their hands regularly with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, to reduce the risk of illness.
  • It is especially important to wash hands before handling food or eating.

Food hygiene when shopping

The risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) cross-contamination to food and food packaging is very low. Food businesses must ensure that they have the correct food hygiene and food safety processes in place and that these are being followed to protect their customers.

Staff handling food in shops are required to maintain a high degree of personal cleanliness and wear suitable, clean clothing. This includes regular hand washing to maintain good hygiene.

Food businesses are required to have a system for managing food safety in place, but this does not necessarily require staff to wear gloves when serving or handling food.

When you are buying loose foods such as fruit, vegetables, or bread in a bakery, try and only touch what you are going to buy.

Imported food products

The risk of imported food and packaging from affected countries being contaminated with coronavirus is very unlikely. This is because the law requires the exporter to follow the right controls during the packing and shipping process to ensure good hygiene is met.

Reusable cups

Customers may previously have used reusable cups or containers when shopping or buying drinks at cafes and other retailers. It is up to the individual business to decide whether they allow the use of reusable cups or containers during this period.

If reusable cups or containers are used, they should be washed thoroughly in hot, soapy water, or in a dishwasher, if suitable.

Social distancing when shopping

You should maintain a 2 metre distance between yourself and others, and only buy what you need. This is to avoid crowding and to create adequate spacing between other shoppers and staff.

Shops and supermarkets may take their own action to avoid crowding. This can include monitoring the number of customers within the store and limiting access to avoid congestion. They may also implement queue management systems to limit crowds gathering at entrances and to maintain the 2 metre distance.

Further information on social distancing can be found on GOV.UK.

Food hygiene at home

Although it is very unlikely that coronavirus is transmitted through food, cooking thoroughly will kill the virus.

If you have symptoms associated with coronavirus, or have tested positive for COVID-19, you can minimise direct hand contact with food by using tongs and utensils.

It is important that anyone handling and preparing food for others follows the Food Standard Agency’s guidance on food safety and hygiene.

You should always use a food-safe disinfectant when cleaning surfaces and follow the instructions on the pack. If there is a shortage of suitable cleaning products, you can use hot, soapy water to clean these surfaces.

Food packaging

If you have been shopping, there should be no need to sanitise the outer packaging of food. This is because food businesses are required to have a system for managing food safety in place, which should include keeping packaging clean. You should still follow good hygiene practice by washing your hands after handling any outer packaging. If you have reason to believe the packaging has been contaminated, you should follow the recommended cleaning guidance.

Loose food

It is very unlikely that you can catch coronavirus from food. You should follow good hygiene and preparation practices when handling and eating raw fruit, leafy salads and vegetables. This includes washing fresh produce to help to remove any contamination on the surface. Peeling the outer layers or skins of certain fruits and vegetables can also help to remove surface contamination. We would remind you not to wash raw chicken or other meat as this can lead to cross-contamination in your kitchen.

It is important to wash your hands with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds before and after you prepare food.

Food storage and reuse at home

‘Best before’ and ‘use-by’ dates should be used to make sure your food is safe and that you avoid food waste by not throwing away edible food unnecessarily. You should always follow the manufacturer’s instruction on the packaging.

  • ‘Best before’ is about quality: food is still safe to be eaten after this date but may no longer be at its best.
  • ‘Use-by’ is about safety: food should not be eaten, cooked or frozen after this date, as it could be unsafe – even if it has been stored correctly and looks and smells fine.

If your food is safe to freeze, it can be frozen right up to and including the ‘use-by’ date. Freezing acts as a ‘pause button’ and stops bacterial growth. You can freeze most food items, including raw and cooked meats, fruit and eggs.

When food defrosts, its core temperature rises. This provides the ideal conditions for bacteria to grow if left at room temperature. It is best to defrost food slowly and safely in the fridge. Food should be eaten within 24 hours once defrosted.

Takeaway food

Orders should not be made in person on the premises. You should order online or by telephone in advance.

If you are collecting your food in person from a takeaway or restaurant which offers a pick-up service, you should adhere to the social distancing rules set out by the food business. This may include having staggered collection times and using a queue management system to maintain the 2 metre separation.

It is safe to have takeaway food delivered if the business you order from follows the Government’s safety guidance.

Staff preparing your food should regularly wash their hands and maintain good hygiene practices in food preparation and handling areas.

Government advice on social distancing applies to those delivering food. You should minimise the chance of coronavirus spreading by maintaining a distance of 2 metres when the food is delivered.

Durham Community News – COVID-19 Update 9th April

This is a round up of the latest information, advice and guidance regarding COVID-19.

DCA Coronavirus Advice Page

We have set up a dedicated page on our website with links to sources of information for voluntary and community sector organisations including regular updates from NCVO and the Charity Commission, the latest information from Public Health, and local authority updates from Durham County Council and Durham Cyber team.

There are also links to our Volunteering and updated Community Buildings COVID-19 guides.

New information this week…

We have updated our advice guide for Community Buildings which can be accessed here

We have added some information from the Information Commissioner’s Office on Data Protection and Volunteering which you can access here

There is also information on the National Business Response Network which has been launched by Business in the Community – The Prince’s Responsible Business Network which has over 750 companies in membership. This aims to identify community needs across the UK and match them to the right business support – full details here

This page is continually updated with the latest information so please check back regularly.

Visit the page here

COVID-19 Response Funding Updates

If you are currently in receipt of grant funding, please contact your funder directly to discuss your support needs.

There are a number of funders and organisations who are offering COVID-19 response funding to voluntary and community sector organisations.

We have developed a COVID-19 Emergency Funding Guide which can be accessed here and regularly updated information is also available on our website here 

This page is continually being updated as new funds are made available so please check back regularly!

Volunteering Advice

The Volunteering Team at DCA have put together a Good Practice Guide aimed at volunteer involving groups who are responding to an increase in spontaneous volunteering from people wanting to support the most vulnerable in their community.  This guide recognises the motivations to volunteer in testing times and encourages continuous good practice in volunteer management. The guide has been updated to include volunteer safeguarding and DBS FAQs too. Download the guide here

There is also an advice sheet for people wishing to volunteer which can be accessed here

We are continuing to offer good practice advice and guidance around volunteer recruitment and management and still operating our free volunteer brokerage service. If your organisation is looking for volunteers or you have any queries around volunteer management please contact: volunteering@durhamcommunityaction.org.uk

CDCF-DCA Covid-19 Response Volunteering Micro Grants Programme

Durham Community Action is delighted to announce that the County Durham Community Foundation has awarded a small grant fund to DCA, which we will administer as a Micro Grants programme. The fund is to add further support to self-organised mutual aid groups and newly emerging volunteer groups which are responding to the impact of Covid-19 in their communities.

This programme will deliver several micro grants alongside targeted specialist information, advice and best practice guidance on safeguarding and volunteer management

Jo Laverick, Executive Director of DCA said

Effective collaboration with our colleagues in the County Durham Community Foundation, aligns practical advice and support with funding which can make a difference. At this time, more than any other time we have known, community led action really counts. We’re delighted to be in a position where we can help small self-help groups get off the ground with a little bit of funding to make things happen” and went on to say “We hope that this support programme will enable informal emerging groups and small but established volunteer led groups to have access to CV19 emergency support funding . We will be administering and processing a range of micro grants (on behalf of CDCF), alongside specialist information, advice & guidance from DCA’s team of support staff.”

Margaret Vaughan, Chief Operating Officer at CDCF added that “working with DCA to provide this support programme to those mutual aid groups who have come forward to organise their own activities in response to local community needs enables them to continue to reach out to those vulnerable and isolated through CV 19.  The support built around the grant delivered on behalf of CDCF will also encourage access to good practice in volunteer co-ordination and in delivering a safe, effective voluntary service.”

The micro grants will enable best practice volunteering and support volunteer led community action aimed at alleviating the spread and impact of the virus.

For more information about this programme and to discuss eligibility please contact us by email

Local Authority Updates

For the latest new and advice on Coronavirus from Durham County Council, visit their dedicated website page here

Public Health Updates

The latest advice from the UK Government which is regularly updated can be found on their website here

DCA are still responding to enquiries and requests and working as hard as we can to support you through these unprecedented times. We recommend you contact us by email in the first instance; please continue using our regular email addresses or email info@durhamcommunityaction.org.uk Your enquiry will be directed to a member of our team who can help you.

All information is correct at time of publication but guidance is regularly changing so please regularly check our website, Facebook and Twitter pages for the most up to date information.

Citizen’s Advice Press Release on continuing advice through the Covid Crisis

           PRESS RELEASE

Citizens Advice County Durham Continues to Provide Advice during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Citizens Advice provides advice on a range of issues – including things that are going to be on a lot of people’s minds as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic such as benefits, statutory sick pay, housing and debt.  Citizens Advice County Durham has had to take measures to protect the health and wellbeing of volunteers, clients and staff but is still able to provide advice, even during isolation.

Stuart Dexter, Citizens Advice County Durham, Chief Officer said:

‘Due to Covid 19 we have had to temporarily close our face-to-face advice services to be able to protect our staff, volunteers and clients – however we have worked hard to ensure that we have telephone support in place to be able to continue to answer your questions and provide you with the advice that you need.

At this time our services are needed more than ever and we have put extra resources in place to cover the additional telephone demand that we expect to see over the coming weeks. All of our amazing staff and volunteers are working very hard to answer your calls but, please do bear with us if waiting times are a little longer than normal.’

Information is also available via the Citizens Advice County Durham website, where they will be providing regular service updates.

Their web address is https://www.citizensadvicecd.org.uk and they can be contacted by telephone in the following ways:

Adviceline:                                        0300 330 9027 Monday to Friday 10am-4pm

Debt Adviceline:                              0300 323 2000 Monday to Friday 9am-1pm

Consumer Helpline:                         0808 223 1133 Monday to Friday 9am-5pm

Universal Credit New Claims Free Helpline:    0800 144 8 444 Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm (if you have received your first Universal Credit payment then please call our Adviceline).

Notes to Editor:

About Citizens Advice County Durham, and the impact that we have for local communities:

As a local charity, Citizens Advice County Durham (CACD) provides impartial, independent and free advice to all who work, live or study in County Durham – our aim is the relief of poverty and distress through advice.

We are one of several Local Citizens Advice offices (LCA) that cover the North East region and we are part of the Citizens Advice network of over 300 LCAs, supported by national Citizens Advice.

Citizens Advice County Durham have 11 offices across the county providing excellent coverage for advice and support services through face-to-face, telephone, web-based, and outreach services. Last year we supported 17,292 clients across County Durham with diverse issues including benefits, financial, debt, family, legal, energy, and consumer advice. We support individuals and their families, and communities.

For more information contact:

Andy Watmough

Tel:                  07840 280674

E-mail:             andy.watmough@citizensadvicecd.org.uk

More information on Coronavirus scams – this time from the Financial Condut Authority (FCA)

The text below is taken directly from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website.

You can read their website directly though this link. https://www.fca.org.uk/news/news-stories/avoid-coronavirus-scams

What tactics to look out for

  • Exploiting short-term financial concerns, scammers may ask you to hand over an upfront fee – usually between £25 and £450 – when applying for a loan or credit that you never get. This is known as loan fee fraud or advance fee fraud.
  • ‘Good cause’ scams. This is where investment is sought for good causes such as the production of sanitiser, manufacture of personal protection equipment (PPE) or new drugs to treat coronavirus – with scammers using the promise of high returns to entice consumers. 
  • Using the uncertainty around stockmarkets, scammers may advise you to invest or transfer existing investments into non-standard investments.
  • Clone firms – firms must be authorised by the FCA to sell, promote, or advise on the sale of insurance products. Some scammers will claim to represent authorised firms to appear genuine. In particular, be aware of life insurance firms that may be cloned.
  • Scammers may contact you claiming to be from a Claims Management Company (CMC), insurance company or your credit card provider. They may say they can help you recuperate losses by submitting a claim, for the cost of a holiday or event such as a wedding cancelled due to coronavirus. They will ask you to send them some money or your bank details.  
  • Cold calls, emails, texts or WhatsApp messages stating that your bank is in trouble due to the coronavirus crisis, and pushing you to transfer your money to a new bank with alternative banking details.

How to protect yourself

  • Use the Financial Services Register and Warning List to check who you are dealing with.
  • Reject offers that come out of the blue.
  • Beware of adverts on social media channels and paid for/sponsored adverts online.
  • Do not click links or open emails from senders you don’t already know.
  • Avoid being rushed or pressured into making a decision.
  • If a firm calls you unexpectedly, use the contact details on the Register to check that you’re dealing with the genuine firm
  • Do not give out personal details (bank details, address, existing insurance/pensions/investment details).

And a final thought from me. Scammers will try to rush you into taking action. If you have any unease about a call or email, talk about it with someone whose judgement you trust before you take any action. Nothing will spoil in the minutes you take, but a scammer may very well be foiled.

You can report the firm or scam to the FCA by contacting their Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768 or using their reporting form

Unfair Business Practices in the Covid-19 Crisis

The Competition and Markets Authority has developed a form to allow you to report businesses if you think they acting unfairly during the Coronavirus outbreak. This could be a business raising prices unfairly when selling to customers or to other businesses, or a business making misleading claims about their products or identity.

Link to it below.

Competitions and Markets Authority: Tell us about a business you think is acting unfairly during the Coronavirus outbreak

Getting Support to Clinically Extremely Vulnerable People

Clinically Extremely Vulnerable People (as defined by the government: see below) are urged to APPLY FOR HELP IF YOU NEED IT. It is not enough just to get the letter from government. You need to register in order to get the extra support.

The link is: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable

Alternatively phone the helpline 0800 number in the letter

Registering online is the fastest way to get the extra supoport. You can do it online or you can get someone else to do it for you.

If you haven’t had the letter and think that you may be a Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Person, check out the qualifying list below:

Clinically Extremely Vulnerable People are defined as:

You’re extremely vulnerable if you:

  • have had a solid organ transplant
  • have any cancer and are getting chemotherapy
  • have lung cancer and are getting radical radiotherapy
  • have cancer of the blood or bone marrow, at any stage of treatment – for example, leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma
  • have any cancer for which you’re getting immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments
  • have any cancer for which you’re getting a targeted treatment which can affect the immune system – for example, protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
  • have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • have a severe respiratory condition – including cystic fibrosis, severe asthma or severe COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
  • have a rare disease or inborn error of metabolism that significantly increases your risk of infection – for example SCID or homozygous sickle cell
  • are getting an immunosuppression therapy that’s sufficient to significantly increase your risk of infection
  • are pregnant, and have a significant congenital or acquired heart disease

If you fit this description you should register (or ask someone else to register you at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable

Been away too long

After a number of years running this blog I ran out of steam. It seems like now it’s time to start again if it allows me to pass on any information that may be useful to people.

Be patient. The software has all changed and I’ve grown longer in the tooth which doesn’t help!

So watch this space, and let me know if you have anything you want me to add.