Information for Food Businesses

There are many things to think about when planning to re-open a food business after shutdown. Here’s a very useful checklist for caterers to complete, so nothing is forgotten.

Food business reopening checklist

Safety of your water supply, drains and pest control are the most important issues to consider when planning reopening. Any food business with a cold/hot water system needs to take action. Disease causing bacteria such as Legionella will grow in dormant water systems, especially in the warm weather.

DISCLAIMER; A risk assessment should be made before flushing or disinfecting a water supply to ensure the safety of those involved. The expertise of a competent plumber or heating engineer may be required. Read the HSE advice here.

The following is general guidance.

To flush, run the water until the temperature stabilises and let all water run down the drain. Every tap must be turned on to drain away stagnant water. Dismantle, clean and descale removable parts, such as hoses, shower and tap heads and inserts. Flush again. Disinfection of the entire system is needed if the system has not been regularly flushed through the lock down period.

Disinfection can be achieved by temperature – set the heating system to 60°c and run each tap and appliance sequentially for at least 5 minutes. Otherwise a chemical disinfectant could be used – it is recommended that advice is sought before attempting chemical disinfection of a water system. Remember your own safety when flushing/disinfecting a water system, do a risk assessment first.

Further advice is from PHE about Legionella

Check your drains are running freely and run dishwashers empty, Southern Water advice.

Make sure that no unwanted pests have decided to make your business their home while it’s been closed. These quick tips could save your reputation or a visit from an environmental health officer.

  1. Smell – if something does not smell right check it out – if you can’t find the source or it’s not a smell you recognise call in professional pest control.
  2. Noises – if there is a noise you cannot recognise (scratching or banging) when cleaning and getting the business ready you might have rodents. Contact a professional pest controller to come and check.
  3. Droppings – have you found droppings? Then you have rodents in the business rat droppings are about 2 – 3mm and mice about the size of a grain of rice. Call in professional pest control.
  4. Footprints – if you are unsure you can sprinkle either talcum powder or flour over the floor if you return the next day and if there are prints in the powder there are rodents in the business. Call in professional pest control.
  5. Bait boxes – if you have bait boxes around your business get your pest control contractor to come and check them before you reopen.

If you notice anything strange or you think you have pests in your business – do not ignore the signs. Get help – do not open until your business is pest free.

HM Government Guide to restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway  services during coronavirus (COVID-19).

A downloadable version of this guidance is also available.

For further advice please email us at