Modified packaging protects food, provides longevity | Japanese researchers develop plant-based plastic | Grocers deploy robots for help during pandemic
April 8, 2020
SQFI SmartBrief
Food Safety News
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.
Full Story: The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (4/8) 
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Innovation & Technology
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.
Full Story: FoodNavigator (4/7) 
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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.
Full Story: United Press International (4/7),  The Asahi Shimbun (Japan) (4/4) 
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Grocers deploy robots for help during pandemic
Tally the robot (Simbe Robotics)
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.
Full Story: CNN (4/7) 
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Solutions & Best Practices
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.
Full Story: Feedstuffs FoodLink (4/7) 
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SmartBrief Originals
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.
Full Story: SmartBrief/Food & Travel (4/8) 
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SQFI Update
Free SQF guidance, tip sheets and checklists
Free SQF guidance, tip sheets and checklists
Access free SQF resources, including guidance documents for SQF Code Modules, tip sheets to help understand different system elements and checklists to prepare for an audit. Download free resources now.
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SQF online training options
SQF online training options
SQFI and Alchemy Academy are a team in delivering quality online food safety education. Accessible from any computer or personal device, our online courses and exams allow you to learn at your own pace and earn a certificate upon completion. Whether it's advancing your food safety career or preparing for an audit, our online training is here to help. Learn the foundations of preparing a HACCP plan, how to develop a successful food safety system, and the difference between food safety and food quality systems to achieve your desired site certification. Register for training today.
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