Food Establishments Should Elevate Hygiene Standards Through External Agencies

-Ashwin Bhadri

Life will barely remain the same, even when we get to the other side of COVID 19. Coronavirus has created a ripple effect across the globe, as a result of affecting our physical and psychological well-being. Even during this strange time of uncertainties and setbacks, the one thing that won’t change is that – we all still have to eat to survive. And as the world
is acting swiftly to curb the spread of COVID 19 pandemic, but this outbreak will leave a lasting impact on people and their lifestyle in the coming years. Apart from all the changes, the food industry will also experience a paradigm change in the near future.

Improved personal hygiene

Hand washing has never seemed so important. The idea of the importance of handwashing has been a little tough to instill into the minds of the public, including the food handlers. Before this outbreak, it was often one of the most difficult food safety tasks to enforce among the food handlers and workers as they kept forgetting or didn’t have enough time to wash hands regularly. Now, this vital safety measure cannot be taken lightly anymore. Good personal hygiene is expected to continue post-COVID-19 for an improved and healthy lifestyle practice.

Improved sanitation

Although, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) have released a guidance document, ‘Food Hygiene and Safety Guidelines for Food Businesses (FBO) during Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) Pandemic‘ these safety practices will be the new convention for all the food businesses in the years to come. Increased cleaning and regular sanitation of objects and surfaces and of items such as menus, glasses, shakers, door handles, credit card machines, etc. will be seen to keep the patrons safe. Post-pandemic, consumers will be smarter, enlightened, and cognizant. They will be more mindful of the food quality and the hygiene ratings of your food establishment. How the food is cooked and served, how well is your
staff training, and especially how hygienic are the conditions would be the matters of utmost importance.

Food establishments will now have to roll up their sleeves and elevate their hygiene standards by hiring external health agencies to put the customers’ minds at ease.  Once this pandemic will settle, it is anticipated that most businesses will have greater respect for health and safety legislation. Cleaning and sanitizing have been always essential for foodservice
establishments, but now with the emergence of Covid-19 has emphasized how crucial hygiene is and new stringent standards are to be set for the long-term health and safety of the employees as well as the guests.

Physical distancing is here to stay

Food retail businesses such as supermarkets, grocery stores, cafeterias, and restaurants will continue with the practice of physical distancing as a precaution to keep a safe distance between the customers, staff, and the employers. Even when
this crisis dwindles, physical distancing will be practiced as a step to protect people and prevent the spread of the infection.

Respecting illness protocols

This global catastrophe has made everyone aware and conscious about the fact that how dangerous pathogens can be and how swiftly they can spread. It has been known that sometimes food workers work even when they are sick. It can be due to
fear of missing out on their pay or potentially losing their jobs. This scenario will change post-pandemic, as food business managers or employers and the employees will be reluctant to work with someone who has symptoms of illness. Not just this, but even the customers will insist on knowing the health and hygiene of the people who prepare and serve the food.

 Reduction in buffets and self-service

Buffet and self-service food systems rely on the general public being responsible for serving themselves and this can cause food safety risks as we know, not everyone is trained in handling food securely. Not to forget, the utensils and other food
equipment are touched by multiple people and this increases the chances of cross-contamination. People are highly wary of the general behaviuor of others; hence we can see a decrease in demand for buffet and self-service style of food as this
pandemic ceases.

Continued use of personal protective equipment

The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks and disposable gloves have become a common sight in many food businesses and with people in general. PPE is to help protect employees as well as people from coronavirus and
other ailments. This will be become the new standard in food businesses in the times to come for the continued safety of the employees and customers.

(The author is the CEO of Equinox Labs. The opinions expressed are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of