Although some shoppers are still seeing empty shelves at their local grocers, there are no widespread food shortages in the US caused by the coronavirus outbreak, said Frank Yiannas, the FDA's deputy commissioner for food policy and response. Unprecedented demand in recent weeks is the main reason some supplies are temporarily unavailable, Yiannas said, adding that the US food supply remains safe for consumers.
StePac has developed a modified atmosphere packaging for food that extends shelf life by slowing the ripening and aging processes. The hermetically sealed packaging cuts down on contamination risks and preserves the nutritional value of fresh produce.
A team of researchers from Osaka University and Japan Food Research Laboratories has developed a plastic derived from cassava starch and cellulose that can decompose when exposed to microorganisms in seawater. "We would first like to use it as food packaging materials, which are very familiar to people and are often contained in the waste in the sea," said engineering professor Hiroshi Uyama.
Many of the nation's grocers are turning to robots as a way to clean, stock shelves and deliver grocery orders during the coronavirus pandemic, and while the move is intended to reduce the daily pressure on workers, it could be a sign of things to come once the crisis passes. "There's strong interest in moving rapidly in this direction because everyone knows they need to raise their game to stay competitive and it's ultimately more cost effective to automate than staff up, especially in today's labor market," said Bill Bishop of Brick Meets Click.
Tyson Foods has halted operations at an Iowa pork plant after employees there tested positive for the coronavirus, and it is diverting scheduled livestock deliveries to other plants. JBS Souderton shut down a Pennsylvania plant due to flu-like symptoms among senior managers, while an Iowa Premium beef facility shifted its regular plant cleanup to account for a sick employee.
Chef-driven innovations in nutritious, palate-pleasing foods are expanding into health care arenas, which is even more important during the pandemic that's putting more pressure on hospitals, Datassential's Sherry Tseng writes. Two-thirds of hospital patients cite food as an important part of the overall experience and 40% say food choices play some part when selecting a hospital, according to Datassential's 2020 Healthcare Keynote Report.
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