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The Human Side of Data

Val Langeman
Dec 18, 2020 11:42:06 AM
We know how COVID-19 has impacted our lives and the lives of our families. What we may not think about is how COVID-19 has impacted the foodservice industry and the people who work in it. I thought about this as I recently reviewed some Procurant data for the past year.
The foodservice industry was hit hard as COVID-19 spread around the world early in the year. The following graph shows a meaningful dip in food safety activity – temperature checks, procedural checklists completed, etc. -- in locations where Procurant food safety technology is in use around the world.
Some customers closed their doors completely while others remained open but limited their hours of service. Still others maintained normal business hours. February, March and April showed a marked decline in total food safety observations. A resurgence began in May. There was a dip in September, a brief rebound in October, followed by another drop in November. Customer locations in the U.S. appear to have been hit hardest due to lockdowns and various shutdown orders.
The chart above shows activity at the company level. The numbers are huge, so even though food safety activities drop by 5 million observations between January and April, the impact seems small, like a drop in the bucket.
But consider for a moment the human aspect of these observations. It can be easy to generalize when you look at data all day, but it is important to remember that there are people connected to data like this. When we count the number of unique individuals who are making observations the data tells a different story.
In our data alone we see that over 11,000 people were impacted during the first 4 months of 2020. These are people making observations about food safety, checking the temperatures of prepared and stored foods, following checklists. Most of these people are hourly, minimum-wage earners. Many have families to support. Many lost their jobs, at least temporarily. Some contracted COVID-19.
This is of course just one slice of a very large industry, and we are all impacted by COVID-19 in one way or another. But food is universal, and I look forward to seeing these numbers rebound in the coming year. Also, during this holiday season I suggest we give thanks to everyone who works so hard to keep our food safe.

1200px-Feeding_America_logo.svgFor those interested in helping foodservice workers (and others) in need, consider donations to a local food bank. A good place to start is Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, working to connect people with food and end hunger.

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