Phil Lempert, Supermarket Guru and Editor of the Lempert Report
There is little doubt in my mind the role that food retailers must accept in educating shoppers about food safety. These days, if we are to rebuild confidence in the safety of our food supply, we must educate and empower shoppers.
Educating shoppers as to the reasons for a recall in a timely manner is critical; as well as explaining as best we can what happened. I have received hundreds of emails from our readers who are perplexed and confused about just how fenugreek seeds that were imported from Egypt two years prior, could carry the deadly bacteria. Consumers today want to know more and understand where our foods come from and how they are produced.
Which is why our food retailers must take the lead on empowering shoppers with the tools they need to insure proper food safety practices in their homes, and when eating in restaurants. The places we purchase our foods are the best places to share this information - and it is not only about hanging a poster or shelf talker.
Seeing is believing. And each time a shopper is handed a piece of fish, or meat, or salad from the deli an opportunity exists to have a one-on-one food safety dialogue. Yes, I understand that the staff in our service departments are already over worked and under time pressure, however, taking the time to remind the shopper how to take care of the product - in their cart, car and at home - can do more than just share helpful tips; it can also reinforce the stores image and relationship with that shopper. After all, there is nothing more powerful than protecting one's life.