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Foodservice – Safety First

More and more c-store retailers are contacting b2b Solutions for assistance in starting or improving their foodservice operation. As indicated in the last article, we often start with their foodservice beverage offer and use it to create a solid base from which they can expand.

The retailer’s ability to establish and follow the proper procedures for coffee and fountain are indicative of their ability to successfully handle a more complex offering. Not only do we look at the marketing of these items, but at the “behind the scenes” aspects as well. This includes cleaning, as noted in last month’s article, but goes beyond cleanliness and into foodservice safety.

For example, how often do they clean the fountain heads? Newer fountain equipment MAY need brixing less often than they used to, but they still should be cleaned on a regular basis. Failure to do so can result in some bad publicity, as it did in Texas a few years ago when some reporters went to a number of c-stores and unscrewed the heads to reveal a great deal of mold growing. Made for a great news story, but was certainly not good for business or their customers' health.

With coffee, not only should the brew pots (or other holding devices) be kept clean, but so should the brewing baskets and the brew head. For example, on a typical brewer you can easily determine the cleanliness of the brew head by removing the brew basket and wiping the area around it with a paper towel. If it is coated with coffee oils, not only will the coffee likely be bitter, but it indicates a lack of attention to detail. As c-store retailers add additional items to their foodservice offer this type of oversight can have far more serious consequences.

How they handle the storage of fountain/coffee is another measure of their likelihood of success handling more sensitive foods. Has the product been properly stored? Was it rotated when the new delivery came in? Is there any type of tracking method in place to indicate how much should be ordered? All of these are even more important for more sensitive items such as the coffee creamers.

As c-store retailers expand their offer beyond beverages their risk of violating foodservice safety standards grows as well. Even a pre-packed sandwich program requires the retailer carefully monitor the dates, properly store and display the items, rotate the product (storage and display) and inspect the packages to ensure that they are still airtight. Failure to do this can result in selling a contaminated sandwich that makes someone ill.

Many retailers entering the foodservice arena for the first time are not aware of the storage and holding temperature requirements. Freezers should be at 0º F or colder. Retailers should never store frozen foodservice items in their ice chest. It may seem cold, but remember ice freezes at 32º F and that is far too warm for frozen foodservice items.

Many don't realize that their walk-in coolers and display cases may be fine for chilling packaged beverages, but not be cold enough for storing and displaying refrigerated food. Coolers and display cases should be able to hold a temperature no greater than 40º F.

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