Release Date: April 29, 2020
Media Contact: Kevin Hoffman, Public Information Officer, (608) 224-5005
MADISON — To ensure a secure food supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) over the last six weeks has conducted more than 1,100 food safety checks with restaurants, manufacturers and retailers to resolve issues and reinforce best practices.
To comply with the state's restrictions on nonessential travel, DATCP in March halted many in-person inspections but remained committed to supporting businesses critical to Wisconsin's food supply chain. As a result, DATCP found several ways to address the industry's needs while maintaining safety for sanitarians and essential workers statewide.
As part of these efforts, DATCP has:
- Conducted more than 593 food safety calls with restaurants, retailers and recreational establishments since the Safer at Home order took effect. The calls reinforced safety practices, connected businesses with resources, and discussed ways in which businesses have been modified during the pandemic.
- Conducted more than 346 focused food safety calls to dairy plants. This allowed DATCP to assess needs, strengthen communication, and solve issues that may impact Wisconsin's dairy foods supply.
- Completed 65 pasteurizer checks with dairy plants to verify that pasteurizers are operating correctly.
- Conducted more than 120 focused food safety calls to manufactured food facilities to connect with industry partners, identify concerns, and reinforce safety practices.
- Created 32 reference documents to address frequently asked questions and offer clarification of rules and policies.
- Conducted virtual pre-inspections to license new Wisconsin businesses.
“During this pandemic, DATCP has continued to explore ways to fulfill our food safety mission," said James Kaplanek, section chief for retail food and recreational programs. “Those in the industry appreciate the communication, guidance and ideas they receive from staff. Operators have said it provides confirmation that they are operating safely."
DATCP will continue making every effort to assist and accommodate businesses until sanitarians are permitted to resume in-person inspections.
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