Food deliveries (and their records) are often an overlooked aspect of food safety and health & safety management. But handling them properly is key to eliminating risk and ensuring compliance with the law.
Receiving goods can introduce a hazard in your premises such as pathogens or pests. That’s why it’s so important to check the goods thoroughly before accepting them, as well as keeping accurate food delivery records.
Furthermore, documenting food deliveries enables traceability in case there’s a case of food poisoning or a food complaint.
HACCP - receiving food
According to the Food Standards Agency, your food management procedures should be based on the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) - and this applies to receiving food too. HACCP involves the following steps:
Identifying what could go wrong and any risks to food safety
Identifying critical control points to ensure risks are removed or reduced to a level that’s considered safe
Establishing critical limits
Establishing corrective actions, i.e. deciding what actions to take if things go wrong
Keeping records and establishing documentation to demonstrate your FSMS is being properly implemented and managed in an effective manner
Checking food deliveries
It’s vital to inspect food deliveries before accepting them.
Did you know? The main hazard associated with food deliveries is the presence of contaminated items (could be microbiological, chemical, allergenic or even physical contamination). Another common hazard is bacteria growth caused by delays that happen between unloading the food and refrigerating it.
What to look for when receiving a delivery:
Chilled food critical limit: at or below 8°C
Frozen food critical limit: at or below -15°C
Food freshness: always check best-before and use-by dates
Delivery vehicle: check that it looks clean and hygienic
Sensory aspects: odour and colour of the food
Signs of pest infestation
Food packaging integrity and correct labelling
Allergen: ensure that cross contamination does not occur
Paperwork: make sure the information is accurate and complete
Remember to wash and disinfect your thermometers before and after using them to avoid contamination.
Measuring temperatures is key to ensuring food safety. This is because bacteria can multiply very quickly between 5°C-63°C. This temperature interval is known as the “danger zone”.
If for any reason you are receiving a hot-food delivery, make sure the temperature is superior to 63°C.
Do not accept a delivery if it contains:
Evidence of pest activity
Frozen food that is thawing
Perishable foods with a temperature above 8°C
Another important thing to check is if non-food items (e.g chemicals) have been kept separate from food in the delivery vehicle. This is to avoid chemical contamination of food.
If a delivery cannot be accepted, make sure to notify your supplier of any issues.
Make sure to store the delivered food in the appropriate place, may it be freezer, fridge, or dry storage.
What to use for documentation? Food delivery record sheets?
You can opt for recording your food deliveries on paper-based log sheets, or you can choose a digital alternative instead.
The Hubl app, for example, allows you to log deliveries with ease. With built-in best practices based on Food Standards Agency’s guidance, the app lets you record important delivery details including:
Delivery type: ambient, chilled or frozen
Temperature (and feedback on whether you should accept or reject it)
Comments or substitutions
Initials (for accountability)
The Hubl app is a cost-effective, paperless food safety diary that gives you more control over your food delivery records. Designed by industry experts, Hubl includes EHO-reviewed checklists, temperature logs, corrective actions, allergen tracking, and more, giving you one less thing to worry about when it comes to running a successful restaurant, retailer, coffee shop or hotel.
Having an adequate system in place for delivery recording saves you both time and money. It also provides evidence of due diligence in the event a food safety breach occurs.
Training your staff
It’s vital for your staff to know the importance of completing food delivery checks - and how to perform them. Providing adequate training can help keep your business protected and your customers safe.
Negligence or poor management can lead to serious consequences when it comes to food safety. According to the Food Standards Agency, “Food business operators must ensure that food handlers receive the appropriate supervision and training in food hygiene, which is in-line with the area they work in and will enable them to handle food in the safest way”.
In summary: you should always thoroughly check any food received in your premises, and record delivery details. This helps minimise risk and evidence due diligence. You can do this by using food delivery record sheets or by using digital options (like a computer software or food hygiene app).
Food hygiene for your business, Food Standards Agency, Accessed August 2021
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), Food Standards Agency, Accessed August 2021