Opening up, slowly and cautiously

Restaurants, eateries and cafes have been allowed to open from June 8 across India. This comes after almost eleven weeks of a complete lockdown of all businesses. The lockdown has devastated the food and food services and retail industries in India. Although takeaway and delivery channels were permitted during the lockdown, not all restaurants were equipped to switch to 100% takeaway business model. This switch requires extensive tweaking to the menu which was not possible due to lack of staff, especially the chef. Secondly, not all restaurants have the infrastructure to cater to delivery such as smaller kitchens, ability to lower utility costs or convenient pick-up points.

Now that restaurants are beginning to open to on-site dining, they are spending more money to put in place the necessary precautions that are compliant with government regulations. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the industry regulator, has issued strict guidelines for on-site dining. 

As per the FSSAI “Food Hygiene and Safety guidelines for Food Businesses during Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic”, current evidence on other coronavirus strains shows that while coronavirus appear to be stable at low and freezing temperatures on food surfaces for a certain period, however food hygiene and good food safety practices can prevent their transmission through food. The best practice for food business operators and consumers is to maintain highest standards of personal hygiene, the standard protocol of social distancing and limiting social contact and detecting/isolating the infected persons from food handling operations. World Health Organization (WHO) has advised social distancing and maintaining high personal hygiene standards as a means of containing and stopping transmission of this virus. Use of Aarogya Setu app may also help in containing the virus.

In particular, guideline no. 6.1.15 states “If possible, food businesses shall provide disposable menu card, utensils, cutlery and single use sachet (of salt pepper, sugar, ketchup, etc) instead of reusable utensils, cutlery, bottles or salt shakers. Else the same should be frequently cleaned, after each use.” These safety protocols are common to those advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States which state “Use disposable food service items (e.g., utensils, dishes, napkins, tablecloths)It is now abundantly clear, disposable packaging and tableware is preferred and accepted as a means to control, mitigate and negate the threat of coronavirus cross-infection.

Ecoware makes fully compostable single-use packaging from agricultural residue, for use in food services and retail industries. Due to COVID-19, concern about safety and cross-contamination has created an unprecedented demand for single-use plastics, thereby threatening to rollback hard won environmental incentives to reduce plastic pollution. COVID-19 could also well be nature’s warning against climate change. Changes in infectious disease transmission patterns are a likely major consequence of climate change. 

We see major applications for Ecoware products to combat the effects of COVID-19. Our existing business of takeaway food packaging will positively impact economic recovery as most restaurants around the world are slowly but cautiously opening back up. By using Ecoware in restaurants either for takeaway or onsite dining, we can collectively reduce the threat of cross infection. Because after use, all the disposables food packaging can be disposed off responsibly. By using reusable cutlery or tableware, there is always the risk of the coronavirus staying on surfaces if not cleaned or disinfected properly and thereby increasing the risk of community transmission.

Images Source: andresr/iStock/GettyImages Plus

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