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    EDITOR'S NOTE: Making Take-Out Safer

    Ben Franklin, who was as handy with a phrase as he was with a fork, said in Poor Richard’s Almanac, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    By Bob Ingram

    Ben Franklin, who was as handy with a phrase as he was with a fork, said in Poor Richard’s Almanac, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

    Dr. Franklin might well have been talking about food safety as it relates to supermarket take-out, as is evidenced by a number of grocers who are embracing the “food safety first” mantra, among which includes Jacksonville, Fla.-based Winn-Dixie, which commendably has an entire section devoted to take-out food safety on the Wellness page on its Web site (www.winn-dixie.com). The various sections deal with hot take-out food precautions, cold take-out food precautions, and leftover food storage guidelines, among others.

    Well and good, certainly, because no retailer wants a customer to get sick from not handling or storing their take-out foods properly. If that happens, there is the very real possibility of adverse word-of-mouth -- even though the retailer was certainly not at fault. No supermarket wants to hear that a customer got sick from their food, no matter what the actual cause.

    Indeed, with more supermarkets stepping up their convenient meals-to-go menus, why not take Winn-Dixie’s ounce-of-prevention a step further and include safe handling and leftover storage guidelines at the actual point of sale? Having such guidelines on a company Web site is certainly a good idea, but, unfortunately, there is no guarantee that take-out customers will visit that Web site. Having guidelines available at the deli counter, where most take-out is sold in an attractive and visible merchandiser, would go a long way toward never needing a pound of Poor Richard’s cure.

    As Ben Franklin didn’t say: “A word to the wise is sufficient.”

    * * *

    As a follow-up to a previous Editor’s Note regarding United Fresh Produce Association’s admirable “A Salad Bar in Every School” program, three companies have recently donated salad bars to schools in collaboration with the Washington, D.C.-based trade group.

    The Vollrath Co. and Cambro Manufacturing Co. have donated salad bars to the J.G. Johnson Elementary and Manse Elementary School, both in Pahrump, Nevada, while NatureSeal, Inc. has purchased a salad bar for the Sandy S. Miller School in Las Vegas. NatureSeal has also donated its NatureSeal FS product (see related Foodservice Supply & Equipment Trends below) to all three schools. It is a viable alternative to chlorine-based washes that is based on a combination of fruit acids.

    In related news, school salad bars took center stage at last week’s United Fresh convention and expo in Las Vegas. Eric Goldstein and Jorge Collazo, CEO and executive chef, respectively, for New York City SchoolFood -- the office that oversees the city’s school foodservice operations – shared insightful details of how NYC has made school salad bars a cornerstone of their effort to serve healthier school meals. Recently they purchased salad bars for 99 elementary schools using cafeteria equipment funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

    Another message that was very well-received at the recently wrapped United Fresh show came from First Lady Michelle Obama, who sent a letter commending the association’s Salad Bar in Every School campaign and United’s continued efforts at improving child nutrition.

    Here’s wishing United Fresh continued momentum with this healthy and promising initiative.

    By Bob Ingram
    • About Bob Ingram

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