COVID-19 and its impact on food businesses

Coronavirus COVID-19

Food service establishments (FSEs) are taking a big hit because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With health organisations recommending isolation and social distancing, people sometimes have no other option than to stay inside, forcing FSEs to make adjustments to face this period of empty saloons.

In fact, most companies are having to adapt. At SwiftComply, for example, all in-person activities were moved online and we called for everybody to work from home — including the UK engagement team, who are now focused on tasks that don’t require door-to-door action.

“This is precautionary to prevent the transmission of this virus.”

— Mick O’Dwyer, CEO, SwiftComply.

It is important to acknowledge, however, that we are part of an industry where remote working is not a widespread option. FSEs, in particular, are amongst the most vulnerable sectors in this crisis and there is not a lot they can do to relieve their workforce.

How businesses are fighting back

Finding oneself amidst a pandemic is enough to cause anxiety. For food premises, the stress is even higher since the general recommendation for restriction of movement can slow down business, causing an economic burden and potentially costing jobs.

Flattening the infection curve is everyone’s responsibility and we have seen businesses putting creative measures in place to keep their customer base well-fed while respecting recommendations for social distancing.

McDonald’s, for example, closed its restaurants’ seating areas across the UK, moving temporarily to an exclusively takeaway/drive-thru operation. In addition to that, all deliveries are being handled with no physical contact between customers, employees and couriers.

General actions include making hand sanitisers easily available, organising queues and tables in ways that prevent customers from getting near each other, and incentivising delivery options with meal deals and general discounts. Other steps might not be so obvious but also contribute to everyone’s safety, such as doubling down on cleaning procedures to ensure the premises are spotlessly clean and virus-free.

What about FOG?

SwiftComply have visited a large number of FSEs in York to assist kitchen staff, managers and owners with how to deal with used fats, oils and grease (FOG).

One of our main recommendations is that FOG waste should be captured by a grease control device, then safely stored for later collection by a registered contractor.

Handling sealed FOG waste is not dangerous in any way, and this product does not transmit SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus causing the COVID-19 disease. As noted by Aquatech, the World Health Organization says there “is no evidence to date that the COVID-19 virus has been transmitted via sewerage systems with or without wastewater treatment”.

We can all help our communities

Times like this highlight the importance of keeping up with good practices — both at home and work. Fighting this new obstacle will demand all of us to apply proactive behaviour changes.

At SwiftComply, we are doing our best to help curb the spread of the virus, and we hope our friends in the food serving business can bounce back as quickly as possible.

Remember that exercising social distancing and sustaining proper hand-washing on a regular basis is enough to avoid getting sick, which in turn prevents you from passing the virus on to others.

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