Đặng Thanh Phong. — Photo hanoimoi.com.vn
Đặng Thanh Phong, head of the Hà Nội Food Administration speaks to the Hà Nội Mới (New Hà Nội) newspaper about food safety and hygiene for take-away food services after they have been allowed to re-open in Hà Nội.
What are the food safety and hygiene regulations for take-away food stores to ensure COVID-19 prevention and control?
Based on the Directive No 22/CT-UBND issued on September 20 by the Hà Nội People's Committee on adjusting measures to prevent and control the COVID-19 pandemic in the city in the new situation, from 6am on September 21, food services were allowed to reopen for take-away.
They must strictly comply with nine regulations on food safety conditions and COVID-19 prevention and control. Specifically, the processing area must be hygienic and isolated from pollution sources, they must have a separate division between cooked and raw food.
Food stores must have enough equipment for processing, dividing and storing food, and separate equipment for processing raw and cooked foods.
They must have hygienic packaging equipment. Food must be packed in sealed boxes or bags to be transported to ensure food safety during transportation. The food stores must have hygienic trash cans. Food ingredients must have a clear origin and they must use additives permitted by the Ministry of Health. The stores’ employees also must perform personal hygiene in accordance with regulations, have medical examinations and training on food safety. They must store food samples as regulated and must wear face masks throughout the working process. People with at least one of the symptoms of cough, fever, or difficulty breathing must not work at the facility.
What is the inspection work for the take-away services?
The inspection follows Decision No 14/2019/QĐ-UBND issued on July 5, 2019 by the municipal people’s committee.
The city manages food stores with trade permits issued by the Hà Nội Department of Planning and Investment. Districts manage food stores with trade permits granted by districts people’s committees and communes manage street vendors.
When violations are discovered, what is the punishment?
Violated food stores will be punished based on the Government’s Decree 115/2018/NĐ-CP about administrative fines for violations related to food safety and hygiene.
For take-away services, inspections will focus on boxes and bags wrapping the food. If they use unsafe boxes and bags, they can be fined between VNĐ1-3 million (US$44-130).
Supervision for take-away service will focus on what aspects?
Take-away food services are required to fully comply with regulations on food safety and regulations on COVID-19 prevention and control. Specifically, facilities, equipment, tools, processing, people, preservation, transport, storage of food samples and origin of food ingredients must follow regulations.
Food carriers must wear face masks and spray hand sanitiser before transporting the meal, do not gather in large numbers, and keep the regulated distance.
Local authorities should give instruction to inspection teams to check food safety and COVID-19 prevention and control. Inspectors will check facilities, equipment, tools and people involved in food processing as well as food preservation conditions. In addition, they will check plans for COVID-19 prevention and control, with focus on checking the creation of QR codes for scanning by customers to make medical declaration.
Along with that, employees, customers and delivery people must strictly follow instructions of the health sector in pandemic prevention and control. In particular, the food stores must arrange a product delivery and receiving area, have a transit table separate from other areas, ensure the distance between two people is at least two metres, be equipped with hand sanitiser, antiseptic, and have disposable towels. — VNS