In a year of many extremes, extreme weather has become way of life for many parts of the U.S. this summer. From droughts to fires to floods, these events have a ripple effect on the food supply. Food Safety Magazine reports that rising temperatures alone may increase infections by food- and waterborne pathogens, push plant pests into new areas and potentially result in greater use of pesticides, increase the uptake of toxic metals in staple crops, make plants more susceptible to fungal infections, and expand the presence of algal blooms that threaten seafood safety. All told, the current situation requires foodservice operators to have a reliable means of monitoring new potential hazards and adapting the menu accordingly.
Increasingly, consumers care about the precautions businesses are taking to protect the safety of their food en route to the businesses selling it to them. The software and engineering firm Emerson recently surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers about food safety practices – and what they expect to see from suppliers. More than 50 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to shop at stores that aren’t using (or requiring suppliers to use) the latest technology to keep food safe. Half of respondents said they are now more concerned about the safety of their food than they were before the pandemic. Nearly 60 percent said the pandemic has made them want to support local businesses. When you promote food safety to guests, look beyond your operation. Trace the path of your menu items and try to shorten that path where possible. Share the tech products and practices that help keep their food fresh and safe between its source and their dinner table.