Q. What does the ‘use by’ date mean?

A. Highly perishable foods will have a use by date. This is the date that the food must be used by. It is illegal to use food beyond its use by date because it can compromise safety standards

Q. What does the ‘best before’ date mean?

A. Best before dates often apply to longer shelf life foods and usually relate to the quality of the food rather than the safety. It is common practice to destroy food beyond its best before date because the food will have reduced in quality.

Q. Do all food handlers need to wear protective clothing like gloves and hairnets?

A. It is regarded as good practice to wear protective clothing while preparing food. If clothing like gloves, aprons or hairnets are not worn it may not be an offence because this depends on the specific circumstances.

Q. What should I do if I find something in my food (a foreign object) that shouldn’t be there?

A. If you have found something in your food that shouldn’t be there keep all the packaging and ideally the receipt. If it is a perishable food it is best freeze the food with the object in place.

In most cases the complaint can be dealt with by returning the food to the store it was purchased in. Sometimes the complaint may need further investigation and you may have to bring the object of your complaint, food packaging and the receipt.

Q. Can COVID-19 be passed on through food?

A. No reported cases of COVID-19 have been linked to contamination of food. The main risk of transmission is from close contact with infected people. The advice to food businesses and consumers is to maintain good hygiene practices and to wash your hands regularly. Thorough cooking will kill the virus.

Q. What can food workers do to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

A. Normal fitness to work procedures operated in food businesses should ensure that infected workers do not handle food. Staff should not work if they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19. Should an infected worker handle food it is possible that they could introduce virus to the food they are working on, or onto surfaces within the food business, by coughing and sneezing, or through hand contact, unless they strictly follow good personal hygiene practices.

These include:

  • proper hand hygiene
  • cough/cold hygiene practices
  • safe food practices
  • avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing

How should food businesses manage open food displays?

To help avoid the transmission of COVID-19 through surface contact, frequent washing and sanitising of all food contact surfaces and utensils is advised.

Food service workers must practice frequent hand washing and, if using gloves, must change them before and after preparing food. Food service workers must ensure frequent cleaning and sanitising of counters, serving utensils and condiment containers.

Leave a Reply