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Food Safety in the Time of COVID-19

Food Safety in the Time of COVID-19

Food Safety with Corona Virus

The fears over the Coronavirus (COVID-19) have led to anxiety over food safety throughout the world. In the United States alone, 64% of American consumers said they are avoiding eating out in the hope of eliminating the risk of contracting the virus. According to recent research, food safety trumps taste and is the number one priority for consumers in buying food due to the health crisis.

Numerous households have widely adopted home-cooked meals while dine-in foods are upending.  With the Coronavirus health crisis looming and evolving, is it still safe to buy food outside (takeout, delivery, and curbside among others) and what do food-retail establishments need to do in order to show to their customers they are going above and beyond on implementing food sanitation protocols in their business initiatives?

Food Safety Concerns of Consumers

Is it still safe to get delivery? According to CDC, the answer is yes, order away, as they note, “Currently there is no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.” However, it is imperative to always follow general food safety guidelines like washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before eating or preparing food. 

With the number of Coronavirus cases still growing daily, the paranoia on food safety is understandable. The old adage “Prevention is better than cure” still holds true in this health crisis as some families in the country follow their own household protocols when ordering food for delivery or takeout, like opting for the contactless or “leave at my door” delivery option. And when the food gets inside the house, some households transfer the food in their own plates and use own cutleries, toss away the food containers in the trash bin and wash their hands thoroughly before finally eating.

Food Safety Responsibilities of Food-retail Establishments

It’s currently estimated that 65% of restaurants across the U.S. are open for takeout and delivery only, and most grocery stores nationwide are still open but with adjusted operating hours. Due to the Coronavirus, many consumers are more apprehensive when it comes to ordering at restaurants and going to the grocery stores for essentials. What can food-retail establishments do to reassure consumers on food safety?

Emphasizing overt sanitation and implementing food safety/handling protocols within the organization, and clearly showing it to customers, is the best way to go. According to a recent study, almost half (45%) of consumers are looking for clean and sanitary food-retail establishments in this health crisis. So, at this time, it is more important and effective to lead a message and promote your business around food safety, as opposed to focusing on beautifully curated food visuals.

Consumers need to feel a sense of security and reassurance when it comes to food during this scary and unprecedented health crisis. Maybe that’s why people are sticking with eating their comfort foods to alleviate anxieties and worries during these uncertain times. Nevertheless, consumers and food-retail establishments should work together to promote and observe food safety and sanitation, as one cannot effectively work without the other.  As long as both parties do their part, that is already half the battle won against COVID-19.

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