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By Linda Lisanti
Foodservice can really make or break a business, so convenience store retailers must know the risks of foodborne illnesses and how to manage them, according to John Owen of Paster Training Inc., who presented yesterday's final NACS Lunchtime Webinar, titled "Growing Foodservice Sales through Food Safety."
"In the U.S. this year, 76 million people are going to get sick as a result of foodborne illnesses. That’s a lot of people," Owen explained. "We're not talking about a third-world nation here. This is the United States we're talking about."
The good news, he noted, is that every foodborne illness can be prevented if retailers learn to practice active managerial control when it comes to managing the risk factors. These factors include: purchasing only from proper sources; cooking food at the proper temperature; holding food at the proper temperature; using only properly-cleaned equipment; and maintaining proper personal hygiene.
One of the best practices that c-stores can apply to their operations is to put a food safety plan into writing, and establish knowledge benchmarks among employees.
All supervisors should be certified in food safety, and all employees should be trained in food safety upon their start date and then refreshed annually. "Make it mandatory," Owen said, adding that food safety training is inexpensive and available through NACS. Paster Training is NACS' partner in running the industry's Food Safety Education program.
He also suggested that standard operating procedures (SOPs) be documented and followed for the flow of food; food safety; training; sanitation; personal hygiene; food allergen management; chemical and pest control; and crisis management.
Without having the firm foundation that comes from achieving active managerial control, Owen said retailers are at risk to experience the downsides of food safety -- for instance, illness, hospitalization, death, negative media attention, a tarnished brand and lost business, and possibly, even a total collapse of the enterprise.
However, if c-stores take proper action, the upsides are increased food quality, higher customer satisfaction, improved team morale, and increased profits and sales.
Owen offered the following formula: Existing foodservice business + Revenue from increased foodservice buy-in + Revenue from increased repeat customers + Profit from savings in food waste + Profit from savings in turnover + Profit from savings in team-related efficiencies – Cost of training = Improved revenue and profits.
"That's a really good reason to be practicing good food safety practices," he said.