Google Trends reported a 62.5 per cent increase for the brand search term “Hello Fresh” since July last year. But with burgeoning consumer concerns for health and safety due to the pandemic, food safety specialists at Navitas Safety say it’s important these companies stay hot on health with the rise of home-ordering.
As one of many housebound nations, Australia turned to convenient meal-kit delivery and takeaway services to avoid leaving the safety of home to shop. It is projected that the global meal-kit market will grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 13.27 per cent, reaching over $20.1 billion by 2027.
HelloFresh’s global active subscribers grew by 74.2 per cent within the first three months of 2021.
However, convenience shouldn’t trump hygiene and food safety standards, Navitas Safety digital food safety expert and CEO Ben Gardner said.
“The demand for meal kits has raised concerns about the correct storage facilities for door drop-offs,” Gardner said.
“There have already been cases around the world whereby inaccurate storage temperatures have affected the safety of fish causing risk of contamination from toxins like histamine.
“With sustainability also now a major consideration for these companies, a lot of them have moved to containing ingredients in little more than an ice-packed cardboard box for hours on end,” he said.
“Ultimately, it is then down to the consumer to ensure the foods are stored correctly thereafter, but it’s important that businesses keep the customer aware of storage information both pre and post order and that there are instructions set to stop food going off, preventing what would be an unfortunate bout of food poisoning.”
Leaving foods such as meat and poultry out at room temperature for too long could lead to dangerous levels of bacteria growth.
“Most bacteria will grow between 8°C and 60°C, this is what we refer to as the danger zone,” Gardner said.
“This could ultimately lead to bad bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus (Staph) and Salmonella Enteritidis (Salmonella) to grow, causing a food borne illness for the consumer.”
It is important to maintain an appropriate temperature during transit, from sourcing the ingredients to customer delivery.
“Keeping foods at the right temperature is absolutely paramount to consumer safety and should be a priority for businesses,” Gardner said.
“For those that struggle with ensuring food is stored correctly, or those that want to take that extra precautionary measure, they should utilise digital food safety tools such as Smart Temperature Pods. These ensure that temperatures are monitored 24/7 when placed in cold storages.
“When food is stored incorrectly, not only are consumers put at risk of food poisoning, but the industry will see an increase in food wastage, too. If brands utilise a digital food safety strategy, they will be eliminating the risks and potential of both.”
Businesses must also ensure that all meals and recipes clearly list allergens and ingredients to maintain compliance standards.
“Businesses must work hard to ensure all pre-packed goods are listed with the correct allergen information, in order to prevent allergic reactions and potentially, severe side effects,” Gardner said.
“Consumers must also play their part and ensure that they read all allergen information before consumption. Not only that, but consumers must follow cooking instructions thoroughly, for instance the correct cooking times, washing foods and defrosting methods, as well as check the use-by date prior to cooking.
“Whilst reports may highlight concerns surrounding these services, as long as detailed and thorough precautions are taken, and as long as consumers responsibly store the delivered ingredients, they should continue to enjoy convenient and fuss-free meal kits,” he said.
Navitas Safety is a key safety partner in the food and hospitality industries. Working with restaurants, suppliers, delivery and takeaway businesses, Navitas Safety provide its clients with audits, consultations and digital food safety strategies.
For more food safety information, visit the Navitas Safety website.