By Chrissy Blasinsky
Food safety is not a competitive advantage. Everyone who works within and touches our food supply chain, from farm to fork, is responsible for ensuring food is safe to sell and consume.
The reality, however, is that our food supply chain is not risk free. In the United States there are an estimated 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually (1 in 6 people each year) that result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.
Those are sobering statistics to keep in mind. The good news is that there are solutions we can all strive toward to empower our teams to do the right thing, protect public health and our brands and deliver the high quality and safe experience our customers deserve.
One solution is the NACS Food Safety Forum, taking place October 3 in conjunction with the NACS Show in Atlanta.
“Food safety should not be at a premium. It should be part of the culture at the smallest single location as much as at the biggest chain,” said Dr. Darin Detwiler, LP.D., who was interviewed for the August issue of NACS Magazine ahead of his keynote speech and guided workshop at the Food Safety Forum.
Those attending the Forum will have the opportunity to achieve the following objectives:
- How food safety culture can support, align and contribute to your company’s vision and mission.
- How to communicate the why behind food safety protocols and how certain behaviors can enhance and protect your people, your customers and your brand.
- Identify solutions to today’s—and future—safe food handling challenges.
Another facet of our industry’s food safety focus is the growth of foodservice within our channel.
“Convenience retail is spilling into the QSR space right now. There’s going to be a lot of changes in the industry—there already are—in terms of food,” said Jeremy Zenlea, director and head of health and safety at EG America, in the May issue of NACS Magazine. Zenlea is moderating a discussion at the Food Safety Forum with Nancy Wilson, director of quality assurance, risk management and safety at Wawa Inc., and Amy Costello, director of food safety and quality assurance at Casey’s.
Just last year our industry’s foodservice categories represented 25.6% of inside sales and 36.1% of inside gross margin. The largest piece of the foodservice pie—prepared food—accounted for more than two-thirds of all foodservice sales at 67.3%. Prepared food would also be the No. 1 sales and gross profit contributor across all in-store categories with a gross margin of 55.35% and gross profit of $24,842 (per store, per month), according to NACS State of the Industry data.
As foodservice grows, so does our industry’s diligence for safe food handling and food safety protocols.
Shawn Stevens, founder and food industry lawyer of the Food Industry Counsel LLC, talked about the potential risk and exposure to convenience retailers face if they are not routinely asking the right questions of their suppliers during a recent Convenience Matters podcast—a discussion he will continue with attendees at the Food Safety Forum.
Register today for the NACS Food Safety Forum on October 3.