The way that auditing and certification were taking place has totally change during COVID-19 pandemic, with the remoting procedures to take advantage over the on-sites ones. The pandemic has not just impacted on industries and sectors to varying degrees, but also all-scales organisations around the world have needed to pivot to remote working and to keep employees, clients and service users healthy and safe.
As the UNDP warned, the COVID-19 pandemic is far more than a health crisis: it is affecting societies and economies at their core. While the pandemic’s impact varies from country to country, it will most likely increase poverty, inequalities (food, economic and gender) and disrupt food systems at a global scale, making more difficult and even more urgent the achievement of SDGs. Regarding the latter, an increasing number of countries are facing growing levels of food insecurity, reversing years of development gains. Even before COVID-19 reduced incomes and disrupted supply chains, chronic and hunger were on the rise due to various factors including conflict, socio-economic conditions, natural hazards, climate change and pests.
Considering the food supply chain, one of the most important sectors of the economy, it has been seen that within the global food industry, there was a need and an expectation so all food growers, manufacturers/processors, import/exporters, distributors, retailers, and packagers to be certified to food safety standards, towards offering safe and financial food to everybody, letting no one behind. European Commission (EC) moving towards on solving this long-lasting bottleneck, funded an Innovative and Research Programme named “The Food Safety Market” (acronym TheFSM). The EU-funded TheFSM project (start date 1st of February 2020) is trying to shed light on the challenges concerning food production, processing, distribution, and demand. As COVID-19 had an impact on the whole process from the field to the consumer, this highlighted even more the importance of food safety and certification not only in Europe but also in the whole world.
TheFSM major goal is to develop an industrial data platform, build upon state-of-art blockchain technologies, so as to give a digital boost to the way food certification takes place in Europe, encouraging better methods for auditing especially after the impact that COVID-19 had.