The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant impacts for nearly all industrial and societal sectors in the world. As closures and social distancing mandates were implemented to help control the spread of the novel coronavirus designated as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the food industry was immensely affected. This review explores the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the food supply chain from a multi-disciplinary viewpoint and provides perspectives on the consequences on food safety and food security, a risk assessment on human-animal interactions, and considers logistical/protocol adjustments required for the food industry. While foodborne transmission of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is not a significant factor for food safety as direct transmission of the virus through food products is not evident, food security has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic threatens food accessibility, especially for vulnerable populations of people, through its effects on food cost and infrastructure, food distribution and public transit access, and social inequities. Currently, global interest for COVID-19 is focused on human health and rightfully so, but adverse effects on the food supply chain are already evident and will likely continue to occur for several years after the pandemic is over, let alone if other global health pandemics of this magnitude surface in upcoming years. Uncertainties over the novel coronavirus have interrupted global trade and supply chains. The pandemic has underlined the importance of a robust and resilient food system, which presents an unprecedented challenge for competent authorities in upcoming years.
Keywords: COVID-19; food safety; food security; food systems; public health; risk assessment.