By Sara Counihan
ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Public health and cleanliness have been top of mind for a couple of years now. But how do these topics translate to foodservice and delivery in the convenience retailing industry? This week’s episode of the Convenience Matters podcast explores the latest facts and science behind safe food handling.
This week’s guest, Dr. Don Schaffner, distinguished professor and extension specialist at Rutgers University, rose in popularity during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when he took to social media to inform the public that COVID-19 was not spread by food and food packaging materials, which was controversial at the time. Once the public started realizing that COVID-19 was not transmitted that way, the demand for direct delivery to consumers for products from groceries to tacos shot up.
Schaffner works with the Conference for Food Protection, which meets every two years to help the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) write the model Food Code. He said that an FDA committee that originally was formed to look at the safety of mail order foods has been expanded to include third-party delivery businesses.
“There was a real need to have guidance on how to do these kinds of businesses,” said Schaffner.
According to Schaffner, third-party delivery companies are not covered under the FDA food code because those that deliver the food are independent contractors, while delivery workers who are employees of a business are covered.
“[The pandemic] catalyzed things that were already happening right. … Delivery services were a thing that was happening, but the pandemic has catalyzed those. I think it’s good for FDA to get involved in it,” he said.
NACS Daily reported that although the FDA is considering imposing regulations on food delivery services, it hasn’t said if and when it will. The food delivery is a $26 billion industry that remains unregulated, but because of the success of food delivery companies, especially since the beginning of the pandemic, the FDA doesn’t want to disrupt the convenience, ease and popularity of the services.
Schaffner also discussed the five-second rule and how quickly bacteria can grab onto food.
“We always saw at least some bacteria transfer. But on the other hand, under certain circumstances, did more bacteria transfer over a longer period of time? And the answer there is yes,” he said.
The importance of hand washing was also discussed. Does temperature matter when washing your hands? What is the ideal amount of time to wash, and are there better alternatives to sanitizing hands when not removing debris? Find out in this week’s episode, “Fun Facts About Food.”
Each week a new Convenience Matters episode is released. With more than 300 episodes to choose from, the podcast can be heard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and other podcast apps and YouTube and at www.conveniencematters.com. Episodes have been downloaded more than a quarter million times by listeners around the world.
Sara Counihan is contributing editor of NACS Daily and NACS Magazine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.