Improvement in food safety is one of several silver linings we have to take away from this global pandemic. In the Spring of 2020, while most of us were worried about how much toilet paper we had left or when we’d be able to travel again, small businesses in the food industry were focused on much bigger challenges. Here are a few hygienic improvements small businesses have made that we should all be grateful for as we still get to eat great food and our chances of getting the common cold or flu go way down.

Important Food Safety Advancements

Employee Health Screening.

Employee health screening

An important shift in our culture which I hope will stick is to respect others by staying home if you’re sick. In countries like Japan, it’s frowned upon to go into public when you have a cold or flu. In America, however, we tend to try to push through like nothing’s wrong and we end up just getting more of our friends and co-workers sick.

Responsible restaurants are now screening their employees for symptoms (some mandatory and some voluntarily). Going forward we’ll see more restaurants following this protocol and hopefully providing compensation to workers who are feeling ill and can’t come to work so that they are incentivized to only return when they are no longer contagious.

Hygiene In The Kitchen.

Hygiene in the kitchen

We’re now well aware of the benefits of personal protective equipment. While gloves and hairnets were commonplace before the pandemic, now masks will be too. We’ve been wearing them long enough that the stigma has worn off considerably and it’s acceptable to wear a mask in public. Health-conscious restaurant managers are likely to keep this practice for everyone in the kitchen even once COVID is history.

Cleaning protocols are also here to stay. Clean air systems, like the one advertised by this local pizza place, help neutralize microorganisms in the air. Equipment upgrades like this along with surface sanitation measures that are now baked into standard processes will considerably reduce the spread of viruses from the kitchen to the table.

Hygiene In The Supply Chain.

Hygiene in the supply chain

Being careful with the spread of germs from the kitchen to the table will considerably cut down on the transfer of illness between people, but what about from farm to kitchen? The next line of defense is protecting ingredients throughout the supply chain. Food inspections, which evaluate the quality of fresh produce and processed foods, help catch potential issues at the source. These types of inspections are becoming more common, to maintain food safety, helping to increase the quality of food and decrease the spread of pathogens.

Some estimates say that almost 1/3 of all small businesses in the US had to stop operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. While this is a staggering amount, the businesses that did survive have made several improvements in their operations that are here to stay. It’s safe to say the bar for hygiene has now been raised and hopefully this means significantly less spreading of the common cold and flu.

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