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QUINCY, Mass -- The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. here has launched an educational program in a Long Island, N.Y. store covering food safety basics during the grilling season, and has enlisted a local medical expert to help get the word out.
The "Safe Grilling 2007" pilot program aims to protect barbequers and picnickers from foodborne illness. The chain kicked it off last week with a presentation by Dr. Ken Steier, dean of academic affairs and patient safety officer at Nassau University Medical Center, to seventh-grade students during a class lab visit to a Stop & Shop Supermarket in Dix Hills, N.Y.
"This is a model that I hope other food retailers will follow," said Steier of the program. "Many consumers do not know the basics of food safety, and if retailers like Stop & Shop teach them, it will mean that my colleagues and I will see fewer cases of food poisoning and other illnesses in our emergency rooms."
During the presentation the students received detailed instructions on how to shop for, transport, refrigerate, defrost, marinate, and serve barbecue and picnic foods.
The Dix Hills Stop & Shop store manager Chris Myers said the program offers very practical tips about food handling. "A safe food plan begins even before you make your purchase," Myers said. "One of the most common mistakes consumers make is that because it is the focal point of their barbecue or picnic, they purchase their meat and poultry first. It should be the last thing they load into their cart before heading to the checkout.
"During the warm summer months, shoppers may also want to consider loading their meat and chicken into a cooler," continued Myers. "Many consumers who make other stops on the way home do not realize the perilous situation they are creating by leaving these items on the back seat of their very hot car."
A company spokeswoman said that the education program could be extended to other Long Island stores and possibly additional Stop & Shop market areas.
According to Steier, this year about 5,000 people in the United States, or about 14 people daily, will die from foodborne illness. Over 325,000 people are hospitalized each year for foodborne illness, and about 76 million cases occur annually.
The Ahold USA banner operates 575 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia.