SafeFood© Location Location Location!
A well-known axiom in the real-estate world is location. A comparable axiom for foodservice operators is known source of food served to customers. September is Food Safety Month and the experts tell us that food from unsafe sources is one of the leading causes of foodborne illness. Restaurants, schools, and other licensed foodservice MUST purchase food from approved suppliers. Generally, that means the supplier has the licenses needed and have undergone required inspections. A few products (such as most fresh, whole, unprocessed fruits and vegetables) don’t require any oversight as the content of the food doesn’t allow for rapid bacterial growth.
Most of these regulations are in place to prevent back street sales of products from unidentified (and possibly unsafe sources). Foods sold through approved channels are monitored. Packaged foods will indicate the name and address of the manufacturer or distributor, ingredients used, and nutritional information. They won’t tell you source of all ingredients used, which was an issue with the pet food outbreak a few years back and a factor to consider when purchasing imported foods (very few of these are inspected in the U.S.) Those who sell food need to be able to identify at least one link back in the food chain, which will allow for trace-back should there be an investigation.
Many people like to buy food direct from a local farmer – this is part of the “food with a face” movement. One friend asked, “Well, I have my doctor and my dry cleaner, so why not my farmer?”
The food supply in this country is pretty safe. Yes, there are a high number of illnesses each year but many are preventable. Do what you can to prevent becoming sick by buying food from known sources, reading available labels, and following directions for preparation.
Submitted Catherine Strohbehn, PhD, RD, CP-FS on September 11, 2009