Investing in the Future of Business via Food Safety Professionals

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Investing in the Future of Business via Food Safety Professionals

By Hilary Thesmar, PhD, RD, CFS, Vice President, Food Safety Programs, FMI - 07/19/2016

Supermarkets have long celebrated a trusted relationship with their customers. According to FMI's 2016 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report, nine out of 10 shoppers say they trust their grocery store to sell safe food. Furthermore, shoppers maintain a high degree of trust and confidence in their grocery store to keep food safe, and they continue to see eating at home as healthier than eating at restaurants. The nation's grocery stores are well positioned to nurture this shopper relationship, and it's theirs to win or lose.

I hear each day how the food retail community is increasingly investing in food safety programs to manage and seal their reputations among their customers. Just as consumers are investing in their health, so too are food retailers ramping up their resources to manage the safety of the entire supply chain down to the retail level. Although there are costs associated with implementing food safety programs, the costs associated with foodborne outbreaks remain far greater. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research also demonstrates that establishments with a certified food protection manager are less likely to have foodborne illness outbreaks, have better food safety practices, and have better ratings and fewer critical violations on their inspections.

Food retailers fully understand that foodborne illness outbreaks can lead to a host of negative issues for their businesses, including, but not limited to, loss of customers, sales and reputation; negative media coverage; lawsuits and legal fees; and even higher insurance premiums. FMI is equally invested in helping to anticipate the needs of its members through a five-year partnership with Prometric, the global leader in test development and delivery, to bring the Certified Food Protection Manager (CPFM) exam under the FMI SafeMark program to FMI members and their employees. FMI will leverage Prometric's extensive test delivery infrastructure to place exams in food retail stores and Prometric test centers.

The benefit of this alliance we forged in June is twofold, as we also value the professionals at retail ensuring these associates have the resources to effectively advance their careers. Our food retailers remain committed to controlling risk factors within their operations, and they strongly support food safety training at the store level.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code, “The increasing complexity of the food industry, the improved ability to identify/trace foodborne outbreaks and other economic, staffing, cultural and behavioral challenges make it imperative that food protection managers know and control the risk factors that impact the safety of the food they sell or serve.” For this reason, ongoing training is essential. The CPFM exam is accredited by the American National Standards Institute and adheres to standards set forth by the Conference for Food Protection, ensuring a fair and impartial testing experience and scientifically developed, legally defensible exam.

Food protection managers play an important role in food safety and are essential to maintaining customer trust and confidence.