Lessons in Food Safety
Ialways learn something new at scientific conferences. Some- times, I learn something that causes my jaw to hit the floor
(hearing that during an audit, a sanitation crew member was
seen sampling a puddle of sanitizer on the floor because she/he
would be “penalized” for finding a positive).
After a while, the shock value wears off. But
it shouldn’t. It should spur one to action! But
sometimes, the action to take isn’t crystal clear.
Last month, I learned that small online
food resellers typically don’t consider them-
selves part of the food industry (this translates into they don’t
believe they are subject to the same regulations or need to keep
track of recalled product that they might be selling). Huh! But
perhaps this is just a lack of education. They don’t know. So, on
to action! How do we reach them and educate them about their
responsibilities? Are state, local, or federal agencies inspecting
them? Under whose jurisdiction do they fall if they don’t have a
I also learned that in certain parts of the country (think small,
rural), some restaurants don’t require food handlers or servers to
be certified. This would obviously complicate investigations of
foodborne disease outbreaks, especially if these same areas don’t
use automated reporting of reportable laboratory results to the
state’s department of public health. Again, how do we educate
the small-town restaurant owner about safe food handling and
employee hygiene? About sanitation? Pest control? Cold chain?
These are just a few of the questions that have been swimming
around in my brain since I returned from the Annual Meeting
of the International Association for Food Protection in Salt Lake
City in July.
What actions should we be taking as an industry to help train
and educate more broadly? What next steps should we be taking?
If you have ideas or experiences to share, please send them to
me. We all might learn a thing or two.
Barbara VanRenterghem, Ph.D.
CEO, The Target Group Inc. Don Meeker
Publisher Stacy Atchison
Mia’s West Coast Granny Bobby Meeker
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