THE POST-PANDEMIC FOOD SERVICE FUTURE
With the reopening of many restaurants around the country, we’re beginning to see what the future might hold for the food service industry after Covid-19. With heightened awareness around health hazards and a deeper focus on sanitation, the food industry landscape may look very different from what it once was.
In a continued effort to curb the transmission of pathogens through social distancing, the number of tables in many dining areas will have to be reduced and spaced further apart. Partitions may also be installed and outdoor seating may become the primary service area. As well, the number of guests per table may be limited, potentially eliminating the gathering of large groups for the foreseeable future.
Popular eateries might even see a rise in the rule of “reservation only” as a result of decreased capacity, fewer tables, and to prevent the crowding of doorways and bars.
The known safety risks of buffets and self-service areas are even more of a concern given present circumstances. Most members of the general public aren’t trained in food safety, increasing the chance of potential hazards. High contact utensils and equipment pose a greater risk of biological and cross-contamination.
Due to the public’s increased awareness of pathogen transmission as a result of the pandemic, the demand for buffet and self-service style food is anticipated to decline.
Going forward, both food business operators and employees will be understandably reluctant to work among coworkers exhibiting signs of illness. Likewise, customers will make choices based on their trust in a business to ensure the safety of their food.
To protect staff and customers, many managers may opt to screen employees for illness and require those who don’t feel well or exhibit symptoms to stay home.
The Phasing-Out of Reusable Menus & Condiment Containers
Because the presence of a virus can potentially live on surfaces for days, reusable plastic menus will likely be phased out and replaced with disposable paper menus. Consider high-contact table condiments like salt, pepper, syrup and hot sauce a thing of the past. To reduce the use of share-able objects, the popularity of single-use packets maybe become the standard.
Increased Sanitation Protocols
It is expected that most food businesses will have a greater respect for health and safety long after the pandemic has passed.
It will be necessary for the increased sanitation of objects and surfaces to become routine. Items such as door handles, credit card machines, and interactive table-top devices should be cleaned and sanitized regularly to keep staff and customers safe.
Continued Use of PPE
Disposable gloves and face masks have become a common sight in many food businesses and may become the norm in customer-facing food service.
Personal protective equipment can aid in the protection from illness, but it’s essential that employees are trained in proper use. For instance, removing gloves that are contaminated and then interacting with face, nose, mouth or eyes allowing a route to infection. Hand washing will continue to be treated as a Critical Control Point though with heightened monitoring, corrective actions and increased staff education.
Prevent. Correct. Protect.
When it comes to preparing your business for the future, Avert can help you set the standard. With thorough inspections, training, program development, and a hands-on approach, we assist you in reaching well beyond basic compliance to achieve full-scale food safety, customer satisfaction, and brand security. There’s no better time to start than now.
Matthew McClure provides sound strategies that instill cost-effective methods for building robust food safety, operational and quality assurance programs. Along with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Microbiology from The University of Akron and an MBA in Finance from Louisiana State University, Matthew brings over 20 years of experience in the food safety industry to AVERT Food Safety Advisors. His knowledge spans many areas including FDA food processing facilities, USDA meat and poultry plants, dietary supplement manufacturers, retail, cannabis manufacturing, and food service operations.
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