Does COVID-19 have a silver lining? 2020 was a tough year. What could possibly be the silver lining? Many have pointed out the fact families have been brought together. To me, that is the gold lining. The silver lining is that COVID-19 improved food safety.
Seriously? Yes, seriously.
Prior to COVID-19, the food industry had food safety standards but many used paper forms on clipboards. Compliance was hit or miss. Larger restaurant chains and grocery stores would use Procurant's automated checklist system, but perhaps not to its fullest potential.
COVID-19 was a wakeup call.
You may have heard the phrase “Farm to Fork.” Food safety starts at the farm, but what is the farm? It is the start of the food chain. It might be a field. It might be a ranch. It might be an orchard or a vineyard. But it also might be a body of water.
“Fork” is the end of the food chain. When you put that bite of food in your mouth, you want it to be safe.
Every link in the food chain must maintain food safety standards. Every field, every pasture, every grower, every shipper, every distribution center, every grocery store, every restaurant, everyone who handles food. Prior to COVID-19, consistent and complete usage of automated checklists was spotty. At Procurant, we have dedicated customers who maintain a high level of compliance. Others not so much.
What do I mean by that?
One of the ways that compliance is measured is by required checks. Every food safety checklist contains a list of checks: some are required; some are optional. The required checks are important. The optional checks may or may not be important. Human nature often gives us an excuse to skip optional checks.
Since the bottom fell out in April 2020, the number of required checks has increased. More checks were added. Some optional checks became mandatory. The chart below shows three measures of required checks between April 2020 and January 2021. Observations of required checks, the total number of required checks, and the minimum number of required checks have all risen.
Another measurement of compliance is whether any checklists are completed. Sometimes checklists are only partially complete. Others don’t even start. Since April 2020, users have been far more vigilant. By January 2021, compliance neared 100 percent.
Procurant’s business itself can also be seen as an indicator of increasing food safety compliance. Our sales funnel is healthy and our customer list extends beyond restaurant chains and grocery stores. Workplace safety measures apply to more than just food, and what was once only a food safety solution is now applicable to all types of situations.
So, while 2020 was undeniably a terrible and difficult year, the emergence of safer workplaces, higher levels of compliance with safety procedures and renewed interest in digital task management can give us all a needed bit of optimism.