In the past year, the need for supporting the local community has become more important than ever to businesses and consumers alike. If you visit your neighborhood farmer’s market in an effort to find fresh foods that elevate the quality and taste of your menu – or even to add some compelling video content to your social media accounts – just take some extra precautions to protect the safety of the items you buy. Local markets are often not subject to the same stringent food safety regulations and inspections that govern larger commercial food suppliers. Knowing your farmer always helps, but Culinary Epicenter advises you take such steps as bringing an insulated bag or cooler to the market to protect and separate items that need to stay cool, inquiring about the preparation and storage of any pre-cut items, avoiding the purchase of items like milk, juice and cider unless pasteurization can be confirmed, taking care to avoid the cross-contamination of foods, and upon your return, thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water before washing all produce.
COVID-19 has made food traceability, transparency and protection all the more important – and difficult, particularly as meat facility workers have fallen ill in recent weeks and social distancing rules have limited in-person audits and inspections. So what can operators do to ensure their food supply is as safe as possible? Take this time to urge transparency from your vendors and understand what systems they are using to trace food through the supply chain. Uncertainty in the global food supply chain is also likely going to drive food businesses to think even more locally. Is there an opportunity right now for you to source more ingredients locally – or adjust your menu so you can?