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Coffee in the time of covid

18 Aug 2020

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Contactless coffee transactions make it easy and safe to avoid single use cups

Cafes all over Ireland and indeed the world are making a move back to reusable coffee cups, thanks to the Contactless Coffee transaction which is now seen as a safer option for both customer and barista.

The Conscious Cup Campaign and similar organisations in other countries are working with cafes and restaurants who looking to reopen after lockdown and still offer their customers the environmentally friendly option. These businesses are being asked to to commit to #ContactlessCoffee, a campaign to help keep reusable coffee cups on the menu.

The new process is "completely contactless" and as such should drastically reduce any risk of coronavirus transmission. The new method sees a ceramic mug or jug used to transport the coffee to the reusable cup, eliminating any shared touch points between the customer and baristas.

How it works in 4 easy steps:

  1. Place your clean cup on the tray and step back 2 metres
  2. The barista takes the tray with your cup
  3. The barista uses a jug or mug to prepare your espresso and steamed milk [this is optional, you may prefer water] and pours this directly into your reusable cup [no touching]
  4. Slides the tray back to you, place the lid on and enjoy!

Here it is in action

What does the FSAI say?

The FSAI have issued guidelines for all types of food businesses who are re-opening and they have a section dedicated to Reusable Cups and Containers, you can find all of those guidelines here

Can I accept reusable containers and cups from my customers?
Yes, a food business can choose to accept reusable containers and cups from its customers. However, consideration must be given to the safety implications of this practice.

As a food business operator you have a legal responsibility for ensuring the food you produce and sell is safe.

What must I consider if I accept reusable containers or cups from customers?
If you choose to accept reusable containers or cups you will need to assess the risk involved with this practice as part of your food safety management system.

You need to think about the hygiene implications of such a practice. So for example, your staff should not accept containers or cups that are dirty or in bad condition e.g. cracked or chipped. It is also advisable to wash their hands after completing the transaction.

Would I be liable if a customer fell ill after consuming food or drink from a reusable container or cup?
Your business could be liable if a customer became ill as a result of the overall hygiene within the business, which could potentially be due to accepting reusable containers and cups that were not clean or in good condition (e.g. cracked or chipped).

That is why it is important to consider the risks involved in accepting reusable containers or cups and put in place proper systems to deal with this.

What advice would the FSAI give businesses who wish to implement this practice?
Food businesses who wish to accept reusable containers and cups from customers should consider introducing a policy within their own business to:

  • detail what reusable containers and cups they would accept
  • ensure that customers are made aware that only cups that are clean and in suitable condition will be accepted
  • ensure that both staff and customers are clear on what is acceptable so there is no confusion on either side
  • ensure adequate hand washing by staff where they are accepting containers or cups from customers that may introduce contamination to the food business

Where in legislation is this covered?
While the use of reusable containers and cups is relatively new, the food hygiene legislation (Regulation (EC) 852/2004) which applies to all food businesses, would regulate this practice in a food business.

This legislation covers all aspects of hygiene in a food business, including hand washing, personal hygiene and the condition and cleanliness of crockery, utensils and equipment coming into contact with food.

It also places the responsibility on the food business operator for the safety of the food they produce and sell.

The food business would need to risk assess the practice of accepting reusable containers and cups and incorporate it into its food safety management system, which is a requirement under the food hygiene legislation.

Reusable cups and containers

It is up to individual food businesses to decide if they wish to accept reusable cups or containers from customers. The use of these reusable cups and containers is still permitted.

Food businesses who decide to do this should read our guidance on accepting reusable cups and containers from customers.

Use of disposable crockery and cutlery

It is not necessary to use disposable cups, cutlery or other disposable crockery. Washing crockery and cutlery in the dishwasher will kill any virus present. Proper hygiene practices must always be observed when handling crockery and cutlery.

Using disposable crockery and cutlery can lead to a false sense of security and can mean staff are not as conscious of hygiene practices when handling these items.