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Industry Round-up (10/16/20): Third COVID-19 Surge in the US Means Food Industry Must Stay Agile


FoodLogiQ's industry round-ups aggregate the latest updates and resources for businesses navigating the changing food industry. Learn how the industry leaders are adapting to protect and feed consumers, while building resilience in the face of global crisis.

This week the rise in COVID-19 cases has made headlines and renewed focus on how food businesses ought to cope with risk and consumer concerns. As reported in the Atlantic, “The third surge of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States is under way. Outbreaks have been worsening in many states for more than a month, and new COVID-19 cases jumped 18 percent this week, bringing the seven-day average to more than 51,000 cases a day.” While “coronavirus fatigue” is reportedly being felt across the globe, concerns for how to navigate the pandemic safely during winter months—when outdoor gatherings are less practical and seasonal flu peaks—are also increasing.

With the ebb and flow of COVID-19 cases, it has become clear that some trends, like app-based ordering and delivery, are here to stay, while some volatility in demand will continue to plague the industry. For many food businesses, this means that heightened agility will remain key as the whiplash felt during the early months of the pandemic may continue. Furthermore, as COVID-19 cases surge, businesses will be required to maintain heightened precautions around consumer safety, in addition to ensuring worker health.  In a recent FoodSafetyTech interview, Industry & Solution Strategy Director for Food & Beverage at Infor Mikael Bengtsson states:

“Now, it’s not only about keeping products safe but also keeping employees healthy. One progression and resource that all food suppliers must follow is the FDA [FSMA rules], which require suppliers to be diligent and document their compliance. Especially now, while suppliers are faced with limited resources and additional stress during the pandemic, they must rely on the basics—ensuring masks are worn in and out of the workplace, washing hands for at least 20 seconds prior to touching any food, and remaining six feet apart from co-workers. When it comes to a crisis like COVID, take solace in knowing suppliers can rely on the basics—even when conditions are strained.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that members of the food industry cannot operate in isolation: each node in the food system can impact the health of the entities it does business with. While resources are limited, businesses should be supporting their suppliers in taking extra precautions and monitoring compliance to important regulations responsible for food safety and sanitization. Employing new tactics such as remote auditing can help improve compliance with suppliers while reducing exposure risk. Building towards greater transparency through supply chain interoperability will also be key for improving agility. Bengtsson says:

“Technology plays a big role when it comes to agility. Regarding food safety, there are many proactive measures to be taken. The industry leaders establish transparency in their supply chain both upstream and downstream, use big data analysis to identify inefficiencies, as well as couple IoT with asset management systems to foresee issues before they happen.”

Earlier this fall, the FDA released a proposed traceability rule under FSMA section 204 to further push the industry towards interoperability. Consumer desire for more transparent food, paired with this regulatory pressure and the tremendous need to be adaptive in light of a prolonged pandemic all point to transformation coming to the food industry.


Resources

Don't miss FoodLogiQ's upcoming demo on virtual audits, taking place October 21st. View FoodLogiQ's COVID-19 Food Industry Resource Center for industry-specific updates, resources and information on the coronavirus crisis. For supply chain traceability and risk mitigation guidance, see our general Resource Center.

 

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Posted by Anna Ploegh on Oct 16, 2020 6:37:22 PM

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