GETTING A HANDLE ON FOOD SAFETY

Retailers are on the front lines in reassuring consumers that they can have faith and confidence in the food supply. A retailer's consumer educational message should focus on proper handling by the consumer, say industry experts.how to prepare them to minimize the danger of food contamination."Cathy Means, vice president, Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del., agreed. "The total food-safety

Retailers are on the front lines in reassuring consumers that they can have faith and confidence in the food supply. A retailer's consumer educational message should focus on proper handling by the consumer, say industry experts.

how to prepare them to minimize the danger of food contamination."

Cathy Means, vice president, Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del., agreed. "The total food-safety chain begins with the grower and ends with the consumer. Pathogens come from everywhere, the retail level, in the home and at the grower level," she said.

Some of this cross contamination can be traced back to careless preparation at the home and restaurant level. As produce finds itself being used in more and more nontraditional categories like read-to-heat and ready-to-heat meals, supermarket produce operations must act like restaurants, industry observers say.

To this end, the National Restaurant Association's Serve-Safe program has been employed by more and more supermarkets as a training tool for any department preparing or packaging foods.

Food safety has become so emotionally charged that joint industry campaigns have emerged including the Fight Bac movement. These programs were developed to help those on the front line greatly reduce the risk of an outbreak.