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ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The food safety team at Wegmans Food Markets here has recently acquired some new tools "to make assessments more complete and productive than ever before," according to the retailer.
"Mobile computing tablets have replaced our clipboards and checklists," said Lou Tassi, retail store quality assurance manager for Wegmans. "We use a software program to assess every department with perishable foods -- dairy, bakery, meat, fish and seafood, prepared foods, world class cheese shop, and so on. (Story continues below.)
"Careful recordkeeping raises the confidence we have in being able to keep hazards out of the food we sell," continued Tassi. "For example, we keep a log for every batch of rotisserie chicken we cook. The log records what time of day the chicken went into the rotisserie, the final cooked temperature, and who cooked it. If you keep a log of these things, you feel more certain that you've done everything you could and should to make the chicken wholesome."
Logs also provide cooking and storage details for other prepared foods, and the Wegmans food safety group checks these logs during their visits to the store.
The grocer's food safety assessors visit each location without prior notice at least three times a year. When the assessment is complete, an e-mail is sent to the store manager and district manager. If the inspector finds a problem, the issue is rectified at once. The stores also have to submit their corrective action plan within two weeks of the assessment.
Every employee who handles food must complete a computer-based training program that was developed in the late 1990s. Additionally, every employee in a new Wegmans location has to have completed such training before the store opens. The retailer's largest stores have their own food safety coordinator.
Family-owned Wegmans is a 71-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland.