One food safety idea ‘to go’

Articles
October 16, 2009

One food safety idea ‘to go’

Here is one way retailers can turn food safety into a competitive advantage, and wrest takeout business from nearby restaurants.

Here is one way retailers can turn food safety into a competitive advantage, and wrest takeout business from nearby restaurants.

Affix safe food handling labels to takeout containers and clamshell packages because the “learning moment” is when people take the prepared food home and put it in the refrigerator to eat later. “With leftovers, people need to know how long it has been in the fridge, if it is still safe, and other practical information,” says Doug Powell, associate professor of food safety at Kansas State University. He collaborated with former graduate student Brae Surgeoner, and Tanya MacLurin of the University of Guelph in Canada, as well as with 10 restaurants in Ontario and other experts on the design of a safe food-handling label. 

While SupermarketGuru.com doesn’t know the full details of their proposed label, we suggest that besides basic date and serving information, it also clearly states whether a food might contain allergens like peanuts or gluten. In our opinion, supermarkets have failed so far to truly differentiate themselves in prepared foods and easy takeout. This is one value-added step that could help food stores retain the takeout volume that fell in their laps when the economy cratered, and people curbed their restaurant visits. They didn’t really earn the windfall, but they got it, and now they have to address consumer concerns about food safety in order to burnish their image as takeout sources.

Perhaps a special opportunity for this approach is in the small-format stores modeled after Tesco’s Fresh & Easy, which emphasize takeout offerings, and are already battling convenience stores, which are stepping up their meal programs. Safe food-handling stickers could add professionalism to the displays and confidence in consumers, and make the prepared foods section a more frequent destination.  

For more information see Food Protection Trends.