It’s tougher and uncertain now and things will never be the same especially for food businesses (whether businesses selling Easter chocolates, restaurants, bakeries, food stores or farmers markets).
Additional and higher health and safety standards will apply to the entire supply chain of food including production, processing, packaging, distribution, retail and delivery. Also, deliveries might become more common now to prevent crowding and enforce social distancing. However, deliveries still have risk especially when we realise that coronaviruses can survive on surfaces up to a few days (especially on plastic and stainless steel). We need added measures to make sure the food remains safe for consumption.
How food businesses can adapt during and after COVID-19
Food businesses are always essential not just for survival, but also for celebrations. Even during a crisis, there will still be small celebrations to remind ourselves to be thankful and there are brighter days ahead. As a result, it’s a responsibility and privilege for food businesses to continue running.
To continue running and make sure the food remains safe, first we have to regularly check the latest food standards (e.g. Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Novel Coronavirus and Food Safety). As of this writing, there’s no evidence yet that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food (i.e. swallowing the virus in or on food or drink, food is not a source or route of transmission of the virus). More studies are being done right now to better understand the virus as well as its modes of transmission as well as its short-term and long-term effects.
But to be safe, the personnel preparing food for other people should have no symptoms of respiratory illness. It’s also crucial to wash hands before handling the food and ingredients and this also applies to when handling the food packages (and make sure surfaces are clean and disinfected). Remember, COVID-19 can still survive on surfaces for a few days. This means we should also watch how boxes and packages are being handled.
What about refrigeration and low temperatures? Do they help in controlling the spread of COVID-19? There’s not much evidence yet and a lot of other things are still uncertain about the effect of temperature, sunlight, and other conditions on the virus’ survival. But tight temperature control is still vital because microorganisms that cause food poisoning can thrive outside the ideal temperature range.
More changes are sure to come and we’ll also become aware of more risks. New standards are sure to come out to better protect both the consumers and businesses. To adapt, we must keep ourselves updated about the latest food standards and implement them in our businesses. Also, we have to take a closer look at each task and map out all the risks. There will be permanent changes ahead and what we can always do is to adapt and commit to high standards especially if it’s about food safety.