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Safety in Numbers

Food-borne illnesses have negatively affected consumer confidence in the food supply.

Wegmans is one of the retailers actively working to change that.

Last year, six Wegmans-brand products were recalled. And so far this year: 11.

To make a change for the better, in June 2008. Wegmans imposed a mandate on its some 470 Wegmans-brand food manufacturers to get certified against one of the internationally recognized Global Food Safety Initiative standards by the end of the year.

That mandate has turned into action: Wegmans expects that 50% of its private-label food manufacturers will be compliant by the end of the year, up from the current 37%, Gillian Kelleher, the retailer’s vice president of food safety and quality assurance, said in a presentation at the PLMA show. Having certification means they’re held to higher auditing standards.

While larger companies may have an easier time becoming GFSI-compliant due to their resources, Wegmans said it understands that small- and mid-size companies may need more time.

“We’re trying to be practical about this because we understand the work involved,” Kelleher said.

Wegmans, however, has made it clear that this is the direction the company is going in.