As I write this, we, at QA, are in Week 2 of Ohio’s mandatory COVID-19 Shelter in Place Order. Most of QA’s staff are working from home, but with media considered to be an essential industry, we — and all of the GIE publications — are able to continue production, both digitally and in print.
All in the food and agriculture industry, from farm to market, also are considered essential — and are, in fact, a “critical infrastructure industry.” But work from home is of little application for those who are producing the country’s food. And unlike many US residents who have found themselves at home with little to do, food producers are finding themselves significantly extended as they contend with coronavirus-related absenteeism, wellness screenings, temporary workers, and other impacts of the pandemic — while still focusing on the essential business of food safety.
As stated by CDC, “If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.” And, by extension, a “special responsibility” to maintain your normal business practices that ensure food safety.
It is for this reason that, while we have some COVID-19-related articles (e.g., Legislative Update/Food Industry Coronavirus Impact, page 8) and have integrated COVID-19 aspects into other general articles (e.g., The Labor Market/We’re Hiring!, page 56), our primary focus is, and will continue to be, on food safety, quality, and defense. Complex at any time, a food safety issue, product contamination, and/or food or beverage recall will be even more difficult to manage while you are also dealing with the impacts of the coronavirus.
The COVID-19 picture evolves day to day, and we will all evolve with it. In fact, by the time you are reading this, things will have changed, and we will be in a new stage of the pandemic. But we will still be dealing with food safety, quality, and defense as we did pre-pandemic and will do post-pandemic. And QA will continue to provide best practices, expert guidance, and practical applications for optimizing your food facility operations, and keeping your food safe and of the quality your customers expect.