Natural Foods Merchandiser

FDA calls for retailer food safety managers

A recent Food and Drug Administration report looking at the responsibility of retailers in safeguarding food safety emphasizes the need for certified food safety managers.

A recent Food and Drug Administration report about the responsibility of retailers in regards to food safety emphasizes the need for certified food safety managers.

The report, based on an FDA 10-year study tracking the retail industry’s effort to reduce food safety risks, found that when a food protection manager was present in a variety of retail food settings, a significantly higher level of compliance with food safety practices and behaviors occurred. In produce departments for example, compliance was 86 percent versus 79 percent without.

“In looking at the data, it is quite clear that having a certified food protection manager on the job makes a difference,” FDA deputy commissioner for foods Michael Taylor says in a release. “Some states and localities require certified food protection managers already, and many in the retail industry employ them voluntarily as a matter of good practice. We think it should become common practice,” he says.

What does this mean for retailers? “The manufacturer is still where we will go back to [for food safety issues], but retailers are going to get asked tougher questions,” says Daniel Fabricant, vice president of global and scientific affairs for the Washington-D.C.-based Natural Products Association, so retailers will have to have strong relationships with their suppliers,” he says.

“In some categories, like seafood, where we see potential for contamination issues, you might want to have someone on board who handles food safety for the department,” he says.

But smaller retailers don’t need to panic. “There is flexibility. You can have employees learn more about HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control) and food safety in general. It can mean paying attention to store trends like how long are some products sitting on shelves and where the risks are,” Fabricant says.

He also points out that the American food supply is the safest in the world; “but that’s not to say we can’t do better.

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