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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Produce Safety and Microbiology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #377947

Research Project: Ecology and Detection of Human Pathogens in the Produce Production Continuum

Location: Produce Safety and Microbiology Research

Title: Food safety lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic

item Lacombe, Alison
item Quintela, Irwin
item Liao, Yen-Te
item Wu, Vivian

Submitted to: Journal of Food Safety
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/26/2020
Publication Date: 12/18/2020
Citation: Lacombe, A.C., Quintela, I.A., Liao, Y., Wu, V.C. 2020. Food safety lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Food Safety. 41:2.

Interpretive Summary: The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the daily life of people all across the globe and has threatened the security of the world’s food supply. Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the nation’s food and agricultural system, and food producers are facing many challenges. The food production sector, in particular, is shifting away from traditional safety approaches toward more modern and sophisticated controls in processing, testing, traceability, and distribution. What has emerged is an opportunity for new data science tools to augment existing strategies for decision-making about worker health and food safety as a situation rapidly occurs. This article will review the food safety lessons learned and discuss the technological advances that have occurred since the COVID-19 outbreak and their impacts on the food supply and safety.

Technical Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a new era of food safety. To date, there is no evidence to suggest that handling food or consuming food is associated with COVID-19. Nevertheless, COVID-19’s impact on food safety and security has been grave. The world is currently experiencing several supply chain issues as a direct result from extensive lockdowns and impacts on essential worker safety. Disruption in the food supply, while catastrophic in nature, has created opportunities for the advancement of medical science, data processing, security monitoring, foodborne pathogen detection, and food safety technology. This article will discuss the key components for food safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. The discussion will draw from lessons learned early in the outbreak and will analyze the etiology of the disease through a food safety perspective. From there, we will discuss personal protective equipment, detection of SARS-CoV-2, useful surrogates to study SARS-CoV-2, and the expanding field of data science. In the future, scientists can apply the knowledge to the containment of COVID-19 and eventually to future pandemics.