Similarly, managing risk continues to be a hot topic among foodservice operators simultaneously working to reduce food costs and improve customer satisfaction.
After all, if a consumer purchases produce at a local supermarket and then falls ill, the blame is generally tracked back to the grower. In foodservice, a meal that makes one sick often results in finger pointing at the restaurant, which can spawn ramifications ranging from a bad review on Yelp to long-term, irreparable damage to a foodservice brand and reputation.
In early August, I took part in an inaugural meeting of the Fresh Produce Safety Center in Sydney.
The center is being formed through a partnership with Produce Marketing Association Australia-New Zealand and the University of Sydney, and has a charge similar to that of the U.S.-based Center for Produce Safety: reduce foodborne illness risk in fresh produce (through food safety research).
As I was a founding chairman of the Center for Produce Safety, the FPSC wanted to hear from me about insights CPS has collected with its investment of more than $16 million in 99 research projects.
Whether selling to retail or foodservice, the implications of CPS research are critical to maintaining the consumer expectations for food safety that now sit on our collective shoulders.
Key learnings of CPS since its inception include the importance of sampling strategies in testing, the critical need to clean and sanitize surfaces that come in contact with products, and that any wash process must be sufficiently controlled to prevent cross contamination.
Any operation that employs product, water or environmental testing should develop plans for what actions need to be taken when the test results are either negative or positive.
Negative test results generally mean it is acceptable to use that water or product, or that the sanitation program is effective. Positive test results can elicit a number of actions and it is important to think ahead and have a plan for how the organization should react.
When considering cleaning and sanitizing surfaces that come into contact with products, it’s important not to overlook gloves or cartons used for packing operations.
If gloves are used to handle raw products, they should be changed frequently and/or cleaned and sanitized periodically while in use. Preference should be given to the use of nitrile gloves.