ITO Thailand Hygiene Blog
Pandemic Impact on Food Industry
Food and Food Packaging Safety
Virus pandemic had firstly emerged in late 2019 and later spread all over the world causing the great damage to lives and properties and inevitable changes in daily life such as social distancing measure or limiting the number of people to prevent excessive crowding. The most obvious example is the change in consumer behavior that avoids dining at restaurants at risk of meeting large crowds and turns to rather use food ordering through the application programs instead. However, the consumers still have concerns that virus can be contacted through food or even food packaging.
In fact, this pandemic is a respiratory infectious disease and the World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet found evidence that virus can be transmitted through the consumption of food or beverages contaminated with virus (Source: Anelich et al., 2020). Besides, the stomach is acidic, an unsuitable condition for the virus (Source: Food Standards Australia & New Zealand, 2021). Therefore, it can be concluded that the contamination in the diet has a very low risk and it is not considered a foodborne disease like other foodborne pathogenic bacteria such as Clostridium botulinum, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, etc.
However, cleaning the food contact surfaces such as tables, spoons and forks is important because the cutlery may be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria or viruses. Even though virus will not be transmitted through food or food packaging, it can be transmitted by touching the contaminated surfaces, then, touching the eyes, mouth or nose.
We all know that the main factors of foodborne illnesses are cross-contamination and food poisoning. According to the previous article, food preparation is suggested to be in accordance with the principle of highest consumer safety including precautionary principle when using surface disinfectants due to some chemicals are not safe to use with food. In addition, UV-C light technology has been introduced recently to reduce microorganisms while retaining the food quality.
Impact on the Food Industry
Due to the pandemic, the international border closure measures are globally very strict, as well as, the travelling of workers in agricultural sector has become more difficult (Source: Aday & Aday, 2020) causing the transportation of food products becomes more complicated and time-consuming. Whereas this type of products is perishable and directly affects the quality and safety, the exporters have to adjust by reducing the export quantity and frequency resulting to the decrease of supply while the demand remains the same. As a result, the trend of prices of these products inevitably rises causing a food security crisis.
Food Security Crisis
Food security means to the ability to access safe and nutritious food, both physically and economically, according to food preference for an active and healthy life (Source: Mahan Cherdchuwong, 2020).
There is evidence that pandemic has a greater impact on food security (Source: Mardones et al., 2020) than on health due to the effects of international border closures causing food access becomes more difficult, especially for low-income populations or those who lack incomes due to business closures (Source: Bisoffi et al., 2021); for instance, when there were outbreaks of pandemic, the governments of many countries had chosen to close the schools to prevent the outbreaks in children. For developing countries or poor families, school meal may be the only meal of complete nutrition (Source: Bisoffi et al., 2021) and omitting this meal will definitely affect the child development. The details of food security including food sustainability shall be discussed in the following opportunity.
Sustainable Solution Guidelines for Food Industry
After many factories have to suspend production due to the pandemic crisis, today those food factories have increasingly adopted the automation system in their food factories because of many benefits such as reduction of cross-contamination, labor shortage, human errors, risk of accidents and labor costs while increase of production efficiency.
ITO Thailand is very pleased to supports the use of automation system to improve the quality of production line by offering a variety of automated products such as weight checking system, packing robot, palletizing system, etc., as well as, consulting services for operators in order to raise awareness of hygiene and comprehensive hygiene management.
1.Aday, S., & Aday, M. S. (2020). Impact of COVID-19 on the food supply chain. Food Quality and Safety, 4(4), 167–180. https://doi.org/10.1093/fqsafe/fyaa024
2.Anelich, L. E. C. M., Lues, R., Farber, J. M., & Parreira, V. R. (2020). SARS-CoV-2 and Risk to Food Safety. Frontiers in Nutrition, 7. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2020.580551
3.Bisoffi, S., Ahrné, L., Aschemann-Witzel, J., Báldi, A., Cuhls, K., DeClerck, F., Duncan, J., Hansen, H. O., Hudson, R. L., Kohl, J., Ruiz, B., Siebielec, G., Treyer, S., & Brunori, G. (2021). COVID-19 and Sustainable Food Systems: What Should We Learn Before the Next Emergency. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 5. https://doi.org/10.3389/fsufs.2021.650987
4.Food Standards Australia & New Zealand. (2021, September). Transmission of COVID-19 by food and food packaging. Retrieved May 15, 2022, from https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/safety/Pages/Can-COVID-19-be-transmitted-by-food-or-food-packaging.aspx
5.Mardones, F. O., Rich, K. M., Boden, L. A., Moreno-Switt, A. I., Caipo, M. L., Zimin-Veselkoff, N., Alateeqi, A.M., & Baltenweck, I. (2020). The COVID-19 Pandemic and Global Food Security. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 7. https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2020.578508
6.World Health Organization. (n.d.-a). Coronavirus. Retrieved May 15, 2022, from https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus World Health Organization. (n.d.). WHO Coronavirus (COVID-19) Dashboard. Retrieved May 15, 2022, from https://covid19.who.int
7.มหันต์เชิดชูวงศ์, ส. (2020, June 3). ทำไมเราต้องสู้เพื่อ ‘ความมั่นคงทางอาหาร’ ในเวลาวิกฤตและหลังจากนี้. Greenery. Retrieved May 16, 2022, from https://www.greenery.org/articles/insight-foodsecurity/
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