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Michael Dautner
July 24, 2020

Food Safety Amidst Covid-19

Food safety

Covid-19 has impacted every industry in its own way and the food industry is no different. With food safety being the name of the game, the industry has had to alter its existing practices to adjust to this new environment. Food trading is now under the highest scrutiny as millions of lives hang in the balance. Both food traders and manufacturers alike have had to explore new technologies to adjust to the disruptions the industry is exposed with. To speak volumes, most food manufacturers have automated certain jobs which were traditionally manual. A classic example being meat procession. For decades, boning and chopping off meat was done manually however now it is automated in meatpacking plants to mitigate risk. Radical innovations like these take time. However, it has given food manufacturers enough skin in the game not only to stay alive but also explore automation as a long-term play.

Sanitation now is the new normal with food traders expected to adhere to sanitation standards as the threat of Covid-19 looms. In this light, food distributors too have had to up their sanitation game. Contactless delivery is now the new norm for food distributors to provide safety for both customers and employees alike. With pathogens surviving on all objects, third party cleaning crews are now selling like hot cakes to solidify machinery and equipment safety. Coping mechanics such as UV sterilization which is used across various industries is being deployed. Airflow sterilization on the other hand is an F&B industry specific mechanism deployed in meatpacking plants where stagnant air is the enemy. In addition, robotics to replace overnight labour to avoid human overlap is another tool food manufacturers have used to ensure operational safety.

Covid-19 has not only changed operational techniques but has also made virtual the new real. Food manufacturers globally have implemented a remote working environment. Employees traditionally have always worked on the job getting hands-on experience. However now, digital is the new working environment and the industry has to ensure it has the technological infrastructure to support this change. With most managerial oversight jobs having work from home available, it allows to have essential personnel onsite only. This not only accommodates a less congested workplace but also paves the way for bolstered sanitation practices.

Traceability and efficiency go hand in hand in the food industry. As a blessing in disguise, Covid-19 has reiterated this and made traceability a prerequisite through food ERP. A digitalized supply chain has always been the talk of the town and now with the virus it has to be incorporated. Food ERP will not only account for the entire supply chain at all times but also allow for machinery and equipment oversight thus ensuring optimal budget allocations. As traceability investments are made, food traders will reap what they sow and in-turn get a higher return on investments. Hence if safety and profit is the meal, traceability is the secret ingredient for the food industry to survive now and thrive down the line.

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