Food Business Almanac: Food safety is everyone’s business

By on June 6, 2012

NCDA&CS food business specialist Annette Dunlap offers resources that small-business owners and food entrepreneurs can use to grow and manage their business. Annette is available for free one-on-one consultations and can assist small-business owners with financial and market planning through the agribusiness development section. She can be reached at annette.dunlap@ncagr.gov.

Remind your customers to use safe handling practices when they fire up the grill this summer.

According to the Center for Disease Control, roughly 1 in 6 people in the U.S. gets sick from eating contaminated food each year. No one wants to be responsible for a food-borne illness. An outbreak can dramatically affect the growth of your business and your reputation with consumers. As the summer grilling season gets under way, remember food safety is everyone’s business.

If you sell a barbecue sauce, spice or other condiment that goes great on the grill, take a minute to remind your customers about safe food handling. You can review tips on safe grilling on the Partnership for Food Safety Education website.

Many of you may have read about the recent salmonella outbreak in North Carolina. To date, a total of 88 people have been sickened by the outbreak. For the first time in its nearly seven-year history, Blue Ridge Food Ventures, located near Asheville, temporarily closed its doors after it learned that one of its tenants was the likely source of the outbreak. The decision was a voluntary and proactive one, designed to protect both the public and the more than 20 businesses that use the shared-use kitchen facility. The facility reopened after environmental tests showed no evidence of salmonella.

There are two key lessons to be learned from the outbreak:

(1) Establish a food safety protocol with your suppliers

(2) Follow the food safety protocols established for your method of production

You can review steps to help prevent a salmonella outbreak in your food product at http://www.cdc.gov/VitalSigns/pdf/2011-06-vitalsigns.pdf.

As a reminder, keep a log of all product names, package sizes, lot numbers, dates and places of purchase for your ingredients. In addition, keep track of the dates you used each ingredient and the products in which you used them. This will help you if any of your ingredients are ever identified as a potential source of a food-borne illness.

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