Foodservice Packaging: An Unsung Hero

How the single-use cup became a staple of modern-day foodservice
Photograph: Shutterstock

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Restaurants, foodservice operations, convenience stores and grocery stores across the country have come to depend heavily on single-use foodservice packaging to keep their businesses operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. These are everyday staples, like soda cups, take-out food containers and cutlery that have become ubiquitous in our lives and we have come to rely on for safe curbside pickup or delivery. 

Foodservice packaging has been an unsung hero in many atypical situations, and actually, is the reason it came to be. More than a century ago, Dr. Samuel J. Crumbine, a Kansas doctor and public health officer and reformer, started a campaign to end the use of the “common cup.” After witnessing a healthy child drink from this public-use metal cup immediately after a patient suffering from tuberculosis, he led the crusade to have this public drinking cup banned.

His campaign caught on to end their use, and the “Health Kup,” the first paper cup aptly named for its purpose of preventing the spread of disease, was invented. Since then, single-use packaging has held the same sanitary benefits for foodservice operators and their customers. 

Single-use foodservice packaging is manufactured, packed and shipped to arrive clean at restaurants and other eating and drinking establishments, like hospital cafeterias. When properly stored and handled, these single-use items offer the most sanitary option to serve customers. 

The sanitary benefits of single-use items are undeniable. Foodservice establishments are realizing that these go-to products are minimizing the threat of foodborne illnesses and ensuring the safe and sanitary delivery of foods and beverages.

Natha Dempsey is president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute, the Falls Church, Va.-based trade association for the North American foodservice packaging industry.

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