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With warehouse procedures all over the world being changed to reflect the new realities of COVID-19, perhaps no area of product distribution has been affected more by these changes than food storage.

Food warehouses, already prone to stricter regulations and handling procedures, have needed to impose new processes and procedures for handling food of all types to help keep their customers safe and curb the spread of foodborne illnesses. These changes can have a major impact on the layout of your warehouse, including warehouse shelving and other storage solutions, and may require your processes to be revised to reflect the sort of products you carry and how you can best protect your customers from infection.

 

Safe Food Storage During COVID-19

Food storage can take many forms depending on what’s being stored, how it’s sold, and even where it’s being sold to. While each food storage warehouse facing these issues will have to devise a unique solution for themselves, there’s a few major factors to focus on for any food storage operation.

 

Expanding cold storage

One of the biggest and fastest ways to keep food safe is through the use of cold storage. Online shopping and ecommerce trends have shown a huge increase in demand for perishables that need to be frozen during storage and shipment, such as frozen meat and processed poultry. Make sure to increase the amount of walk in cooler shelving you have right now to free up space for additional goods that may need the added layer of freshness security that cold storage can provide.

 

Tailoring storage to your customers

Food storage for retail outlets has a number of different requirements for storage and safety compared to restaurants, and your customers’ needs will have an impact on how your items are handled at the warehouse level. Before an item sits on the shelves at the grocery store, would you be able to reduce the number of touches during the picking process? What kind of germ free shelving does your warehouse use, and can you include it at different points in the process? Since retail is going to involve a lot of people interacting with products, it’s best to minimize the risks of infection early on in the process to keep your workers and customers equally safe.

 

Traceable lots

Food storage tends to rely on a FIFO (first-in-first-out) approach to distribution, but in these times of increased disease precaution, it’s important to track lots as accurately and effectively as possible. Design an in-house system to track when products come in and when they need to go out by, and make sure your shelving and pallet racks are rotated appropriately to ensure freshness.

 

Stricter sanitation schedules

It’s no longer enough to stick with your regular sanitation rotation, no matter how frequent or strict it may have been. Every day, set aside time to wipe down the surfaces that come into contact with workers or a large number of products, and set up various areas around the warehouse that your workers can use to sterilize themselves and their equipment before they get back into contact with the food you’re trying to store.

 

Sterilize the food as well as the storage

A step many managers and workers tend to forget is that the food themselves needs to be sterilized at times. Particularly in goods with harder packaging such as cans, they can become the home for not only germs and dust, but even environmental contaminants such as juices from meats and fishes. These contaminants could become allergy problems if left unchecked, so when able, make sure to safely wipe down the packaging your food comes in to stop the spread of further germs.

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