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October 18, 2017

Why Food Safety Is A Growing Priority For C-Stores

Written by Ed Wogan | Food Safety

Tech innovation is impacting everything today, and it’s an exciting time for convenience stores. From kiosks and micromarkets to “limited selection” and “hyper” formats, non-traditional C-Stores are the fastest growing segment in the market. These new arrangements offer consumers and vendors a host of benefits. At the same time, they are impacting the entire retail industry, especially regarding marketing strategies, packaging, distribution, and storage. Which means, of course, a new host of safety concerns, especially regarding the temperature of perishable food items.

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C-Store Industry Growth Drivers

C-Stores are growing at a rate of 6 percent annually. According to the July 2017 edition of NACS Magazine, the options of customized foodservice offerings available to retailers to customize their foodservice offerings has never been greater. A major driver is the consumer desire for greater access to a broader choice of fresh, prepared, and healthy foods. To meet this demand, leading C-Stores have already begun engaging customers with compelling options, such as:

  • Premium and signature products, such as frozen treats, coffees and teas, baked goods, paninis, and hot soups for immediate consumption
  • Pre-cut produce for grab-and-go snacking
  • Meal assembly kits, salad mixes, and ready-to-bake pizzas that can be prepared at home
  • “Sit-down” environments within the store itself that offer “ready-to-eat” foods which are presenting a new competition to QSRs.

Emerging Focus on Food Safety

As C-Stores increase their selection of fresh and prepared foods, food safety rises to the top of the list of critical issues facing the industry today. NACS President and CEO Henry Armour recently noted,  "vulnerability to a food safety disaster is increasing, we have a lot to improve upon."

 The FDA Food Code designates foods that require time and temperature controls to limit microbial pathogen growth or toxin formation as time-temperature control for safety (TCS). Perishable commodities like these have been linked to foodborne illness, hospitalizations, and even deaths, validating the need for a monitoring system and best practices to minimize outbreaks of illnesses like listeria monocytogenes and salmonellosis. Temperature is perhaps the most profound factor influencing the growth rate of these deadly microorganisms.

Be Proactive With Temperature Monitoring

As C-Stores shift from fuel retailers that happen to sell food to food retailers that happen to sell fuel, the convenience retail industry is particularly vulnerable to safety issues regarding perishable foods. While the market continues to expand, it will become critical to include temperature monitoring and control into every C-Store food safety program.

A proactive approach to temperature monitoring and a disciplined, accountable approach to data collection among convenience store retailers will progress food safety standards and adherence and boost consumer confidence in the safety levels of the food they purchase and consume. Fortunately, solutions to all of these concerns already exist. TempAlert can provide C-Stores with a comprehensive toolbox to ensure that compliance, data collection, and food safety standards are consistently met — and exceeded.

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Topics: Food Safety

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