The effectiveness of vegetable and fruit packing is not proven – EBA
Retailers and food stores are places where various anti-epidemic measures are being actively implemented. However, retailers often have to face the requirements that significantly complicate the work of retail outlets while their effectiveness is not yet proven.
For example, as directed by local authorities, many stores daily pack vegetables and fruits with single-use plastics, although there are no requirements at the state level for mandatory packaging of food that is not consumed directly on a site. Such packaging makes fruits and vegetables spoil faster and create a more favorable environment for viruses.
Having analyzed the experience of other countries and the recommendations of WHO and the Ministry of Health, we can conclude that the lifespan of the virus on different surfaces has not yet been determined. Also, according to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, fruits are an unsuitable environment for the virus to survive. Currently, there is no information on virus transmission through the fruit. Certainly, fruits need to be thoroughly washed, but this is a standard recommendation. This was also confirmed by the Ministry for Development of Economy, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine in its letter of clarification dated 11.04.2020 upon request from the European Business Association.
Thus, the decisions of certain city authorities provoke an increase in plastic waste, which has a detrimental effect on the environment. It also leads to higher prices for products due to additional costs of materials and labor hours of sellers, accelerates spoilage of products, increases the number of dissatisfied customers who also do not understand the need for such measures.
To prevent such absurd local decisions, the EBA proposes to clarify the requirements regarding the sales of vegetables and fruits in the Resolution of the Chief Doctor. Thus, experts from the FMCG Committee consider it necessary to allow the sale of unpackaged vegetables and fruits through customer self-service considering basic safety recommendations: the seller or buyer should have personal means of protection, the distance between people should be 1.5 meters, additional disinfection of equipment and etc. In this way, people can be protected from infection without exerting additional unreasonable pressure on retail outlets.
The European Business Association thanks the Ministry for Development of Economy, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine, the State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection for the clarification provided. We hope regional and local councils will also consider proposals from the business community while taking their decisions.