The COVID 19 pandemic has sparked several compliance issues for the food and drink manufacturers around the world. With an increase in demand for products as a result of panic buying in the world, the supermarket sales might have risen however the food industry has been burdened to supply more products while battling the availability of packaging materials.
To meet the demands, it is essential to consider the impact of potential shortages on food packaging materials. Alternative packaging might be required in such a scenario. It is not necessary, however, to inform authorities of any changes to packaging, though the need for a risk assessment arises for products packed inside. Manufacturers should understand the new contamination risks presented by the change. Apart from packaging, Personal Protective Equipments (PPE) also requires attention from the manufacturer’s viewpoint. There has been a significant surge in demand among the public for PPEs and sanitizers, which is an essential safety requirement for meeting compliance standards in the industry. This calls for introducing alternatives to protective equipment (like hair covers, face masks, and protective suits) as well.
Plastic packaging has acquired attention while sparking debate at the same time, with some suggesting plastics as essential for protection from germs while others are pointing it out as a carrier of harmful bacteria. A rise in consumer demand for packaged food products has soared in countries like Italy, UK, and France. To save the environment from harmful effects of plastic, companies like Nestle and Mondelez have signed the European plastics pact to make 100% packaging recyclable or reusable and reduce the use of virgin plastic. The US Plastic Industry Association has claimed that “Single-use plastics are the most sanitary choice when it comes to many applications, especially the consumption and transport of food.” However, if buying products in single-use plastics directly from a seller’s hand, it makes no sense that the consumer remains safe. The prime message is to keeping the bags to yourself and washing hands regularly.
Even though plastic packaging is getting much attention in these difficult times, according to certain studies performed, the virus can survive on plastics for up to 72 hours compared to cardboards where the virus stays for 24 hours; however, there is no evidence for transmission of infection currently. Below are some health recommendations made by the World Health Organization (WHO):-
- Washing all packaging immediately when it enters the household with soap and water
- alternatively, transferring packaged goods from the packaging to clean containers for storage, and then discarding the packaging; or
- quarantining the items for up to three days in the household before touching them again.
These are very uncertain and unclear times when even the members supporting the plastic reduction movement are in a state of confusion right now, hence taking abundant precaution for this exposure route seems appropriate.
- FoodNavigator.com :- Plastic Packaging: Hero or Villain in the coronavirus era?
- Foodmanufacture.co.uk :- Coronavirus sparks food packaging shortage risks https://www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/Article/2020/04/09/Coronavirus-hit-food-industry-faced-with-packaging-shortages
- Food Packaging Forum: Coronavirus & Packaging