Food Safety in the Time of COVID-19: Is there enough food?

Many of us have had the experience recently of seeing empty, or nearly empty, grocery store shelves. Do we need to worry, is there enough food? 

The good news is that despite what we may be seeing, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assures us that the food supply is safe and secure. Despite localized reports, there are currently no nationwide shortages of food. Food production, manufacturing and distribution, from the farmer’s gate to your dinner plate, are vital industries, and states and the federal government are working to ensure that food production continues, and that food is getting to the consumer.

The FDA has explained that empty grocery store shelves are largely an issue of unprecedented demand – not a lack of capacity to produce, process and deliver – and manufacturers and retailers alike are working around the clock to replenish shelves. Rather than buying a supply of groceries for a few days to a week, consumers are purchasing food for up to two weeks. This means heaping grocery carts and empty shelves. As purchasing, manufacturing and delivery systems all adapt to the pandemic, predictions are that we’ll return to a more normal shopping experience. There have been reports of food hording, but we should not need to worry. While some products may be unavailable, perhaps products originating from European countries where the supply chain is disrupted, the domestic food supply is secure.

The stresses that we are seeing in the economy are putting some of our neighbors at risk for food insecurity. Now is a good time to consider helping out those in need!

And not only may we be stocking our refrigerators, freezers, and cupboards differently right now, we are also preparing and eating more meals at home. Market research shows that we are preparing more food at home not just to feed our families but as a way to entertain or teach our children, or perhaps because food preparation can be a comforting activity.  Home prepared meals and snacks can be delicious, healthy and provide stability in the time of a crisis.

A final key point from the FDA is that the animal food supply is also secure. The FDA is monitoring the availability of foods for livestock and pets. There are no shortages, and no current disruptions in the pet and livestock food supply chain. Stay food-safe and well, Barb