The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed in 2011 after a spike in foodborne illness cases. Even though that law was adopted almost a decade ago, the cold storage and food industries are still adapting to it, according to Brian Niven, vice president of Cold Storage at Bridge Development Partners.
As more people rely on online grocery services during the COVID-19 pandemic, Niven thinks new health regulations around food could be implemented.
“It’s much too early to say exactly what kind of new regulations might be put in place, or whether they will at all,” he says.
Right now, the FDA only regulates items stored in open-air conditions.
“The current COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many of the weaknesses in our food supply chain, and I expect there may be calls for additional regulations on the way it is processed and stored,” Niven says. “If many of the existing rules are expanded to apply beyond just open-air settings to include cold storage and the entire delivery process, it will create massive demand for new cold storage facilities that can meet those new requirements.”
If new requirements are adopted, Niven says there will be a massive spike in the need for new facilities, given the age of most current cold storage facilities.
“The majority of current cold storage stock is outdated and would be difficult to retrofit up to new standards, so any regulations would need to be phased in over time to allow new supply to be developed,” he says.