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Spartan Stores has earned the distinction of becoming the largest supermarket chain in the United States to receive NSF International's Shop Fresh certification.
The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based grocery retailerdistributor is going beyond standard food code requirements to ultimately improve the quality of its perishable products.
"Spartan Stores makes food safety a top priority," said Chuck Behrend, Spartan's food safety director. "We realize that if you want to be the best, you have to work with the best, and the NSF Shop Fresh program has proven itself to be one of the most effective programs on the market to help assure safer food. The NSF microbial reports provide Spartan Stores with a means to view the invisible. These reports have created a heightened sense of awareness on behalf of the store associates and provide a sense of assurance to our valued customers that the food they purchase is the freshest, safest available."
The NSF Shop Fresh Certification Program integrates microbial sampling with onsite inspections. The voluntary program is designed for retail food establishments, which assists in further preventing and reducing food-related risks while improving the quality, freshness and shelf life of foods.
NSF's independent, experienced, third-party auditors evaluate food safety practices in perishable departments and collect food and environmental samples to test and validate freshness and quality. The proactive approach involves three interlocking services: unannounced audits to evaluate operations and customer perceptions; ongoing microbial monitoring tests of food and food preparation surfaces for bacteria; and FastCheck, which provides an immediate response to customer food-related illness complaints and includes testing of suspect products.
To become certified, Spartan Stores' corporately owned Glen's Markets, Family Fare Supermarkets and D&W Fresh Markets were audited and tested to demonstrate compliance with NSF's food safety criteria.
Spartan also has a certified food manager working every shift where food is being prepared or served.