As the saying goes, timing is everything. The 2020 International Food Information Council Food & Health Survey was conducted in April 2020, right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, that backdrop must be considered when looking at the results. Yes, consumer beliefs and actions have made a major shift. The question is, will those changes remain?
It’s not surprising that cooking at home is the biggest change for 8 in 10 Americans. Along with that, they are snacking more, washing fruits and vegetables more, and just giving more thought to food choices.
Going to the grocery store has decreased since consumers make fewer trips to the store each week. Online grocery shopping has gone up.
Food safety concerns about food have increased and more than a third of consumers avoid some foods and beverages. Keep in mind, COVID-19 has not been found to spread through food or food packaging. Consumers are more concerned about food safety when grocery shopping online.
In spite of all the challenges with COVID-19, 67% of respondents are at least somewhat confident in the overall safety of the food supply.
COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. It is a respiratory disease transmitted from person-to-person.
Currently, there is no evidence that food transmits COVID-19. What is important is to use safe food handling practices, most importantly, washing your hands frequently and cleaning surfaces with soap and water, then disinfectant.
It is almost farmers market season. Whether or not a market will be open near you depends on the decisions of local leaders. The sale of food and food products is considered an essential function.
Social distancing must be a priority. No unpackaged foods can be offered for self service. Keep hands as clean as possible by using a portable handwashing station or hand sanitizer. Clean surfaces and frequently touched areas often. Anyone, including customers, with signs of illness must stay home.
We have to give grocery stores a lot of credit for going above and beyond to keep their doors open these days. So, while they do their part to keep food safe, we must do the same.
Do you need to let groceries sit in the garage for a few days after bringing them home? This can have some other serious food safety implications for perishable foods such as milk and meat. There is some indication that COVID-19 can inactivate at room temperature. But all groceries would have to be contaminated to be an issue. Simply wash your hands after shopping, put away groceries safely, then wash your hands again.
Cleaning food packages or washing fresh produce with soap is not recommended. Fresh produce can be safely washed and scrubbed in plain water. After handling packages, simply wash your hands again before food preparation.
Reusable bags are not recommended for use in some stores. Wash these bags often to keep them clean. Throw away plastic bags.