With fresh and nutritious options catching as much speed as they are in the convenience store world, as an owner, you’ve probably considered jumping on the train. One of the biggest challenges you’ll have to overcome is ensuring that your customers don’t meet any of the widely-feared food-borne illnesses.
“Over the past five or six years, the convenience store industry has come a long way in its adherence to the disciplines of food safety and sanitation, and in ensuring the issue remains front and center. However, many consumers continue to report they do not think c-stores are clean and they do not trust the quality and safety of food sold in c-stores.”
C-store operators are facing many potentially dangerous areas in this field. From food preparation and equipment, to storage containers, and even to ice machines (which are subjected to loads of scrutiny when it comes to cleanliness)! Many owner/operators are having to fine tune their food safety and policy procedures along the way.
Good Prep Practices
Food safety starts with safe handling. For fresh, or raw foods there are a few things to keep in mind such as washing your hands, or utilizing approved food safety gloves. This helps minimize the spread of bacteria and keeps contamination risks to a minimum.
It’s also good practice to minimize time that the food spends outside of a cold storage or refrigeration unit. Leaving food out of cold holding too long becomes a risk by allowing the temperature of the food to rise into the “danger zone” where bacteria begins to multiply.
The cleanliness of your workspace is also important. All prep areas must be cleaned and sanitized before use, after use, or when switching food products. This means if you handled raw chicken on one prep table, it must be cleaned and sanitized before using the same surface to slice fresh fruit.
One of the most common errors in the world of food safety is how food is held. There are many variations of how this issue might manifest itself. Because food safety relies on such stringent rules, many C-store operators find it difficult in the beginning to get the hang of it.
One of the simplest rules your store can follow is the FIFO rule, which stands for “First In, First Out.” This means that whatever you make first, should be sold first. This keeps your products moving, and ensures that customers are getting fresh, rather than old items.
Keep tracking of your food prep dates can be easily achieved by placing a label on your foodservice packaging. This lets you as well as your customers know that fresh salad was made today, rather than a week ago!
Your fresh products can also be tracked with CStorePro’s Inventory Management System. Combined with our daily reporting feature, you’ll be able to see exactly how much of certain food items you’ve used over a certain period, and how much you have on hand for the current week.
Keeping your freshly prepared items moving helps cut down on rot and waste. Likewise, having an accurate account of your food items will help manage your orders which can save time, money, and food waste as well.
Be Fresh and Safe
If you plan to incorporate fresh food offerings, then an important part of convenience store management needs to be on food safety. Proper handling and preparation combined with accurate tracking of all products will help keep your food fresh, delicious, and safe!