Retailers deploying ecommerce platforms need to include high food safety standards
‘Food safety never happens by accident’ is an old adage that has never been more accurate than today. Retailers need to take every precaution to ensure that the food that winds up in the mouths of their customers is safe to eat.
As the retail world continues to move to digital platforms, which accelerated even faster during the pandemic, the processes by which food is transferred through the supply chain have actually gotten safer. Fewer hands touching the product on the trip to the consumer means fewer opportunities for safety issues.
The pandemic increased calls for safer food handling and retailers are now utilizing new processes to fulfill orders at stores. These processes are used to ensure labor in store adhere to safe product picking practices so the entire grocery ecommerce journey is safer and more sustainable.
Elements of food safety
At a federal level, food retailers operate under a series of regulations called the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2011. These regulations cover everything from the importing of fresh foods to the transport of all foods from points of production or processing to the point of consumption.
FSMA represented the most sweeping change to food safety laws in more than 70 years and its primary rules were released by the FDA during the past decade. It has changed retail compliance and impacts the entire supply chain, aiming to drive a culture of food safety while providing consumers with important safeguards to enhance confidence in the US food system. FSMA focuses more on preventing food safety problems, rather than on reacting to problems after they occur.
In addition to FSMA, retailers must adhere to requirements from Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, better known as HACCP, which is the internationally accepted process of managing food safety related risk, as well as state and local health department laws.
Ecommerce and food safety
Many of the processes in place to support food safety for staff members working on eCommerce activities, including product selection and order staging, have been in force for many years. Home delivery, after all, is nothing new. There are procedures that need to be modified and/or reinforced to ensure complete hygiene throughout the order fulfillment process.
Food retailers have long focused on ensuring fresh and frozen products are kept at temperatures that maintain or even extend shelf life. To keep completed online orders with fresh and frozen products safe, they now have to operate staging areas that include freezers and coolers. Similarly, while practices to prevent contamination have been in place for food preparation areas for decades, these may need to be updated to address the new fulfillment procedures to limit human touches after the item is made.
Developing and executing a food safety plan for ecommerce
When deploying an ecommerce platform, it is important to consider several guiding principles to ensure food safety:
Set a key hygienic event schedule for ecommerce fulfillment areas.
Comprehensive training will help ensure they know how to best limit food safety incidents.
Get a food safety expert on board as soon as possible.
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Food safety is a constant concern for grocery retailers. When situations do occur, they work to limit the exposure of tainted products to customers. And they deploy new technologies to help them constantly improve their food safety processes. After all, they want their customers to live long healthy lives so they can remain loyal shoppers.
eGrowcery and its partners are committed to helping retailers meet and even exceed food safety regulations as they concern the eCommerce operation. Contact us to learn how the company is putting words into action on this critical issue.