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Italian food business setting standards to keep food flowing


The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how large numbers of workers throughout the food industry supply chain are indeed operating on the frontline. They are vital to ensuring we all have enough to eat but potentially more at risk from the virus than those under lockdown unless hygiene and sanitation measures at their place of work are of the highest standard and clear instructions and guidelines for employees, regarding how to operate during the pandemic, are in place.

Italy was one of the first countries to be hit and it was hit hard. Italian food businesses were therefore some of the first to face having to manage and sustain food production in times of coronavirus. Callipo Conserve Alimentari, based in Pizzo Calabro, a seaport in Calabria, southern Italy has been producing tuna and canned fish for 107 years and currently employs a workforce of nearly 400.


Workstations reorganized inside the Callipo plant

“Staff entry and exit and lunch break times have been reduced and remodeled and the workstations have been reorganized in such a way as to guarantee the minimum distance of one metre”, explained Raffaele Aly, the Technical, Environment and Safety Manager at Callipo, who was responsible for ensuring heightened hygiene protocols were swiftly adopted. “In the few places where it was not possible to guarantee physical distancing, all the necessary PPE has been provided to the workers”, he said, referring to personal protective equipment such as masks. Employees have their body temperature checked daily, clerical staff are smart working, business trips have been suspended and access to the plant is currently prohibited for outside technicians. “The hardest part was getting hold of PPE and disinfectant”, said Aly. There were also challenges involved in training staff to follow the new measures as this involved considerable changes to the regular routine.

The Calabria region has seen 1157 cases of COVID-19 compared to over 86000 in the harder hit Lombard region in the north of Italy. The relatively low level of infection has reduced the risk in the workplace, however “the timely introduction of new measures since February has allowed us to maintain a state of relative tranquility”, said Aly.

One of the production line staff explained what it has been like working under the new protocols. “Getting used to new rules imposed by coronavirus has not been too challenging as we have also had to learn more than ever before that the measures introduced at work are the same ones we need to apply at home”. The tight new system of procedures allows for swift intervention whenever a new risk situation arises. “We have become most aware of the few situations that require us to work in close proximity with one another or situations regarding external visitors to the plant”.


Workers aware of tight new system of procedures

Production has never stopped.

Callipo operates through large-scale distribution, a sector that has remained active throughout the crisis and with tuna a canned, long-life food product, volumes and deliveries have not been affected. “Our production activity has never stopped, above all to honour the important social function, that of continuing to guarantee food supplies”, said Giacinto Callipo, owner. “We have seen no major limitations in the supply of raw materials and packaging. However, we have had to compensate for the reduction of the working day from 8 to 6 hours, for about 40 days, also working Saturdays, in order to receive deliveries”.

Although most of the production and logistics challenges have been overcome, Callipo has had to suspend the installation of new equipment as this would have involved outside contractors from regions at greater risk and some commercial activities have been curtailed due to travel restrictions.

“Our strength has always been our quality and therefore respect for food safety standards, national and international legislation and all that involves safety in general and the environment plays a major role in our organization”, said Callipo. Dealing with clients who share these same values is “an added stimulus to grow and improve”.


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New Codex COVID-19 thematic page

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© Callipo Conserve Alimentari