If you ask consumers what food safety means to them, many people stare at you like a deer in the headlights. ”Hmmm? I’ve heard of healthy foods, but I never really thought about safe foods. But oh, yeah… I know the ‘five second rule’.” Unfortunately, for many people the topic of food safety often boils down to the false security of the “five second rule”, or maybe some awareness of expired milk or moldy cheese. Despite all the good efforts of the food industry to train employees on safe food practices, or the GAP programs being adopted by growers across the country, consumers are oblivious of food safety issues and the industry’s efforts to protect the food supply.
I was recently distributing food safety information at a county fair, when one elderly woman, a wise old Yankee, walked by the booth and snickered at our display and colorful materials, mumbling “the government has ruined all our foods.” I said, “Pardon me? Would you like some information on produce or the recent cantaloupe recalls?” But she kept on walking.
We all eat out, maybe more than we like to admit, whether through necessity or convenience.
And while many people might be oblivious to these good efforts of restaurants or health departments in the areas of food safety, there are some things that immediately resonate with customers and give them a glimpse of food safety in action. When customers see a food worker washing her hands, someone changing his dirty gloves or any other visual sign of food protection, customers can’t help but smile and appreciate these “simple” but important actions that show them that industry cares. To all of the conscientious, caring restaurant workers out there… Keep up the good work.