COVID-19: The Trouble With Takeaway
COVID-19 has transformed the Food sector.
Takeaway containers, delivery riders flitting in and out, darkened kitchens, pre-packed foods made by cafes and restaurants, on-the-go refrigerators everywhere. Government lockdowns have meant that food businesses are required to have restrictions on dine-in patron numbers (or no dine-in at all, depending on what stage of lockdown you’re in), as well as mandatory QR code check-ins and mask wearing. This has meant that, as a patron, eating out has become increasingly less appealing since the pandemic began. The way we eat and the amount of food we buy in a different form seems to have changed for good.
What does that mean from a Food Safety perspective? Should we be concerned?
The industry has shown enormous resilience and ability to adapt. That is good news. However, the increased amount of takeaway food in such a short period of time being made by new players unused to the model who are scrambling to pivot their businesses quickly may also result in more room for error. Food packed on the premises should follow the same rules as anything else we buy in retail and should, at the very least, provide the necessary information to avoid harming consumers.
This means that all staff should have detailed knowledge on the ingredients, potential allergens, and cooking / conservation instructions of all prepared food, and this should be clearly displayed on any takeaway packaging being used. New venues making these foods need to be aware of how and when these foods will be consumed, if they will be refrigerated, and how they were prepared.
Current regulations in Australia do not require labelling of PPDS (pre-packed foods for direct sale), but allergen recalls continue to be a growing problem. So, as we evolve in our new approaches to food, so should our diligence to protect our consumers and avoid hazards.
The advice to the ever-adapting Food Service industry is to be on top of your game, prepare, know your ingredients and practices, and be mindful of the new risks. Most importantly, always be ready to do the right thing.
Call me on 0417 160 120 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more on how to prepare and protect your business during these challenging times.