Why Food Safety Should Be at the Forefront of Foodservice

'Food safety isn’t a competitive advantage in our industry,' said Evan Powell, retail food protection manager at Kwik Trip.

January 29, 2024

In this month’s NACS Magazine column “The Big Question,” we spoke with Evan Powell, retail food protection manager, Kwik Trip on the importance of food safety in convenience foodservice programs.

Why should retailers put food safety at the forefront of their foodservice efforts?

We have a big foodservice program here at Kwik Trip. Food Safety has to be a really integral part of that. When we started preparing and serving food over 20 years ago, before my time here, there were some big national foodborne-illness outbreaks that made our leadership realize we needed to begin building up our food safety programs as we got more into foodservice.

For some people there’s a stigma with gas station food still today, and we and a lot of other convenience stores are fighting back on that pretty hard to become a food destination for our guests. Not only is it not acceptable to get people sick from the food that you’re serving, but it’s going to reflect poorly on your convenience store and the convenience store industry as a whole. When we talk about this, we often say food safety isn’t a competitive advantage in our industry. Everyone should be putting it at the forefront if they’re involved in the procurement, sale and preparation of food.

We always say that hand in hand with the sale of the food has to be the safety and quality of the food. Another phrase that we often use is “Sell more food safely.” We have Food Service District Leaders who are responsible for stores in a specific area of our footprint. Their focus is the foodservice teams in those stores and training these coworkers. They also focus on food safety. Essentially half of their job is food safety—training, audits, corrective action plans and emergency response.

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