Editor’s Plate: Everyone in the Food Industry Should Get Vaccinated

Aug. 9, 2021
As scientists and defenders of food safety, everyone reading this should get their shot.

I think I’ve always kept my editorial page to issues pertaining to the food & beverage industry, not personal things nor those of society at large. But this is too big an issue to ignore, and it does impact the food & beverage industry.

Get yourself vaccinated! And resume wearing a mask! If everyone does those two things immediately and with near-full participation, this pandemic rebound will be over in no time.

As I write this, my home state, Illinois, is reporting infection numbers not seen in five months. Florida reported more new cases of Covid-19 this July 30 than it did since the pandemic began. All of which gives me deja vu. I don’t want to relive 2020.

I’m not an alarmist, but we did some pantry stocking early last year. I bought powdered milk for the first time since college. Went to Costco for those giant packages of toilet paper. After a few weeks of closed restaurants, I saw Olive Garden had a special for touchless curbside delivery. It wasn’t the full-service restaurant experience, but it was so good to have someone else cook us a meal.

Nobody wants to go back to lockdowns and closed stores and restaurants. And that’s the point, really: We understand this virus now, we have vaccines, so we don’t need lockdowns, etc., if enough people get the vax.

People sometimes have short memories. Do you remember these headlines from 2020:

I like the Bill of Rights as much as the next guy, and I even have some libertarian leanings. But there’s a reason you have to stop for red lights, good reasons why we all pay taxes, a reason you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater.

Don't you dare call vaccinations and masking issues that are personal to you. If you catch Covid and end up dying, that’s fine with me, but the odds are you’ll infect someone else before you pass. It could be my grandchildren, who are too young to get the vaccines. It could be me, my wife or our kids, all of whom are vaccinated, but some vaccinated people are getting the virus. (Don’t use that as an excuse!)

An elderly friend of mine was a Covid denier. A real libertarian. Notice I say “was.” He caught the disease last year and died. Roger, maybe you didn’t care about the outcome, maybe you wouldn’t have changed a thing, but you infected some people along the way, all of whom, fortunately, recovered. As nice a guy as you were, you weren’t thinking about them, and you weren’t thinking about me and my family, either.

I know there should be exceptions to vaccinations, but they must be founded on medical advice, not ignorance, stubbornness or laziness. Let your doctor tell you if your underlying medical conditions make it risky to get the vaccine, not your crazy neighbor or someone on Facebook.

Ours is an industry founded on science. The science of which ingredients are safe to put in food and which ones are not. The science of what needs to be done with those ingredients once they’re in the plant, so a safe and wholesome food product gets manufactured. The science of packaging, of a delivery system that gets your product safely to the grocery, where more science takes over to store, display and sell it safely to consumers.

You trust the science along all those steps. Nobody thinks the requirement to refrigerate meat is some conspiracy, some infringement on your right to sell putrid meat, some Democratic Party overreach. It’s science. Without refrigeration, people will die.

If you’re a qualified reader of Food Processing, you have at least a little science in your background, maybe food science, maybe engineering. Even marketing and management have some science behind them. Trust the science. Without more vaccinations, more people will die. And we’ll repeat those 2020 headlines.

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