Taking a Holistic Approach to Food Safety

This week’s Convenience Matters podcast delves into how c-stores can keep food safe. 

November 27, 2019

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—On this week’s episode of Convenience Matters, “Food Safety: Beyond Just Food,” NACS hosts Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic industry initiatives, and Chris Blasinsky, content strategist, discuss clean kitchens, bathrooms and employees with Jeremy Zenlea, director of food safety for Cumberland Farms, and Barbara VanRenterghem, editorial director for Food Safety Magazine.

“C-stores are really unique because they’re part foodservice, part retail, sometimes part manufacturer, distributor, and there are really not great training tools that really fill that need in that store environment,” said VanRenterghem.

For convenience stores, food safety goes beyond prepared foods. “You have to look at every aspect of your store. The way food safety works is that there’s not one element that if you take care of that element, then you’re fine and you’re protected,” Zenlea said. “It’s a process and things contribute to each other. For example, you can have the best cooking and cleanest kitchen in the world, but if you have disgusting bathrooms or you don’t have any working handwashing sinks, then you have a norovirus risk there. What you have to look at is that foods safety is a holistic practice—you can’t do it in silos.”

One major challenge retailers face is having locations in multiple states. “They have to deal with multiple editions of the food code,” VanRenterghem said. “There’s a need for harmonization across the board, but we’re trying to address … some of these gaps, so we can help move the needle and help provide those resources.”

Zenlea pointed out the practical side of things retailers have to think about, too. “For example, one element to consider is how you’re going to display something,” he said. “If you’re going to be selling a packet of raw meat, you can’t display that next to your ready-to-eat sandwich. That’s the basics.”

Each week a new Convenience Matters episode is released. The podcast can be downloaded on iTunes, Google Play and other podcast apps and at www.conveniencematters.com. Episodes have been downloaded by listeners more than 110,000 times in 90 countries.