ATLANTA—Few people think about food safety as they grab from the shelf and consume on the fly. That responsibility lies with c-store operators. Having a series of checks and balances in place even before the food hits the shelves is key, according to a panel of food safety experts who led Tuesday’s education session, “Food Safety Roundtable: Protecting Public Health and Your Brand.”
The foodservice category continues to be a key focus for the convenience channel. In 2018, foodservice sales accounted for 22.6% of in-store sales.
“Food safety is not an option. Erring on the side of extreme caution can remove most hurdles and questions associated with ‘what to do and when,’” said Ryan Krebs, director of food service at Rutter’s.
Krebs was joined by Kwik Trip Inc. Senior Director of Food Protection Jay Ellingson, Ph.D.; Food Safety Magazine Editorial Director Barbara VanRenterghem; and Cumberland Farms Food Safety Director Jeremy Zenlea.
The four analyzed current food safety practices in their organizations and identified additional steps all organizations should take to overcome food safety challenges. Attendees later broke into roundtable groups to discuss and share collaborative solutions to relevant food safety challenges.
Certain risk factors can jeopardize any operation, including purchasing food from unsafe sources, failing to cook food adequately, using contaminated equipment, having poor personal hygiene and holding food at improper temperatures.
Zenlea said the cornerstones of Cumberland Farms’ food safety system are prediction, prevention and reaction. One of its food safety initiatives includes the use of predictive analytics for significant food safety events.
“Regardless of the level of proposed risk of a company’s food and beverage offerings, all types of food establishments will eventually be faced with food safety challenges,” Zenlea said. “It’s important to have a plan in place to handle such challenges, thus protecting the health of their brand and consumers.”