The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of life around the world and at home in the kitchen pantry. With emotions running high, consumers have looked for ways to increase their family’s safety and well-being. In many cases, this includes adjusting the way they shop for groceries and the types of food products they are purchasing.
As recently as May, when surveyed, three in four consumers replied they are confident that the food they are eating is safe during the pandemic. That’s a good thing. In fact, an essential thing. In normal times and in periods of distress, consumers should be able to trust that the food on their plates is safe.
Still, despite these reported feelings of safety regarding food, consumers’ food shopping habits have changed.
As a food business, it’s important to understand what has changed, why it has changed, and how safety remains an underlying issue of great importance.
Not The Same Old Grocery List
As of May, more than a third of consumers—36%—are buying more packaged foods than usual. This coincides with another 36% of people who are buying the same amount of packaged food as normal. Frozen food is also a big winner, with 7 out of 10 consumers purchasing more during the pandemic, and half saying they will continue buying more of it after the outbreak subsides, according to a study from the American Frozen Food Institute.
What’s the takeaway of these numbers? One can see clearly that during this pandemic, consumers are turning to packaged and frozen foods in greater percentages than before. Why? Perhaps it is the perception of greater safety and product longevity of packaged food items versus fresh or bulk items.
Supporting this theory is a recent report from The Nielsen Company. They found that sales skyrocketed for many nonperishable staples, including canned goods, dried beans, and powdered milk.
Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau data shows grocery stores rang up $72.6 trillion in sales in March. In April, those sales slowed a bit to sales of $63.3 trillion. This was still a 13.4% increase when compared to April 2019.
The likely reason behind the increases is that people are stockpiling their personal food supplies amidst worries regarding food availability, food safety, and a desire to minimize trips to the market.
It’s Safe to Eat
Let us be very clear: scientists have said it is highly unlikely that the coronavirus is spread through food. Neither fresh, packaged nor frozen food items are considered a transfer point for COVID-19. What’s more, we have been fortunate to experience very low numbers of food recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks. Those incidents that have occurred had no connection to the pandemic.
This news helps to reinforce the positive consumer sentiment and their trust in food safety. But we can’t take this trust for granted. Food businesses must be especially diligent to prevent food safety issues so they can continue building consumer trust in food products.
Maintaining Safety With Help From Food Testing
For more than 150 years, Medallion Labs has been helping food companies bring safe and properly labeled products to the table. We blend advanced science, discerning expertise, and distinguished service to build a crucial set of solutions designed to give you the certitude you need.
Medallion Labs is an ISO/IEC 17025 Accredited Testing Laboratory. Our accreditation means that our Quality Management System and in-scope analytical methods meet the stringent requirements of an internationally recognized standard of quality for testing laboratories.
We offer more than 165 chemistry analysis options and 19 microbiology analysis options encompassing the areas of nutritional labeling, product quality, process variability, shelf life, physical attributes, and food safety support. Among all of these options, Metals Screen I Test, Metals Screen II Test, and Heavy Metals Package Test are all considered core to ensuring food safety.
The Good And Bad About Metals in Food
The existence of metals in food is akin to the story of Goldilocks. Too much or too little can cause issues. The goal is to be just right and fall into accordance with the US Food & Drug Administration guidelines.
Some metals, such as iron and calcium are not only safe for the human body but also required when taken in proper amounts. Likewise, when taken at too high of a dosage, can be lethal, making it imperative to routinely test fortification level in food products.
Heavy metals on the other hand pose health risks for humans and the environment. In fact, environmental poisoning via commercial waste, pesticides, fertilizers, and other sources is often cited for the existence of metals in dark leafy vegetables and fish.
Identifying the existence of metals, and their quantity is key to providing safe food products. At Medallion Labs, we have divided our metal and heavy metal tests into three options, to help customers affordably zero in on their target metals without paying for unnecessary results. While we’re proud to offer the convenience of cost-effective testing packages, we also offer the option to test metals individually. Additionally, when visiting our Test Library you’ll also note that there test offerings for individual Heavy Metals outside of those listed in our Heavy Metals Package.
Our Metals Screen I Test identifies:
Our Metals Screen II Test identifies:
Our Heavy Metals Package identifies:
All of these offerings play a key role in promoting safer food products and building consumer confidence.
Food Safety Depends on Reliable Testing
A pandemic changes behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. As such, nearly everyone seeks to increase their safety. This is especially true when it comes to essentials like food. In our opinion, the dinner table should never be a place for uncertainty. With food testing from Medallion Labs, food companies get reliable results that ensure they are providing products consumers can depend on for nutritional benefits and accurate descriptions.
Medallion Labs is ready to use our testing options, expertise, and skills to help you maintain food safety standards. Connect with us and let’s develop a testing program for your food products.