As they double-down on foodservice programs, c-stores must work to integrate food safety best practices.
CStore Decisions spoke with Jessica Greeno, food safety specialist for Waltham, Mass.-based Global Partners, to learn how she’s approaching food safety at the company’s more than 530 c-stores that include chains Alltown, Alltown Fresh, Xtramart and Jiffy Mart.
CStore Decisions (CSD): Why is food safety crucial to convenience stores?
Jessica Greeno (JG): Food safety isn’t just important when you eat at your favorite restaurant; it should be just as important at home, at a drive-through and at convenience stores. While we, as a company and an industry, move forward with more robust food and beverage programs, it’s as important as ever to have a solid food safety training program. All employees need to be equipped with the tools and knowledge to keep their team members and guests safe and healthy.
CSD: What are some of the food safety strategies you have implemented at Global Partners LP?
JG: We have created onboarding food safety training, food safety manager courses and job aids for stores to use as food safety reminders. We also employ in-person training so we can use real-time examples to provide necessary food safety knowledge. All of our tools and documentations are easily accessible for stores to use at all times. Our goal is to continue nurturing a culture of food safety in our stores. We want food safety to be second nature to our team members.
CSD: If a c-store chain wants to implement a food safety program, where should they start?
JG: Building a food safety program starts with your store team members. It should be a part of the culture. Gaining trust from your team members is critical. You don’t just want to be a name behind a screen. For us, this meant getting into every store, face-to-face with employees to get a sense of their baseline food safety knowledge so that we could grow and train from there.
CSD: How would you define a food safety culture?
JG: I don’t define food safety culture as simply training and proper certifications — it’s so much more than that. Building a food safety culture takes time, dedication and effort, starting from the top down. It’s important to have full support from all areas of your company to have a successful food safety program. Building a food safety culture requires everyone to work together as a whole. Support; acknowledgment; and systems for tracking necessary products, metrics, training needs and job aids make for a fun and successful food safety culture.
CSD: What are some tips for creating a food safety culture at a c-store chain?
JG: It can’t just be one or two people pushing for a food safety culture; it takes the whole village. Be a food safety champion among your peers, and others will follow. Developing a food safety culture is never fully complete, but food safety standards and practices can become second nature if you build shared food safety patterns and behaviors.
CSD: What other advice do you have for other c-store retailers when it comes to food safety?
JG: Even though some c-stores don’t have a full foodservice program, I also like to share with people that chips, gum and coffee are all food too. Too many times, I’ve heard, “We don’t sell food here,” but there is food all around us. Food safety doesn’t stop at a restaurant or deli; it also includes your facilities, temperature logs, equipment, cleanliness and so much more. We can drive change with support and training. Keep an open mind; food safety, food culture and food programs within c-stores are changing. We, as an industry, have to evolve as our food programs become more robust and dynamic.