C-store owners should recognize the importance of having a stable inventory of fresh foods. Convenience has become a non-negotiable expectation for consumers. People want one-stop-shops that are quick, easy, and affordable. Since c-stores are no longer the only business catering to this need, retailers should focus on going beyond convenience and incorporating high quality foodservice options.
C-Store Trends: 5 Food Safety Tips
C-Stores’ fresh/prepared food sales increased 21.3% from 2020, according to NACS 2021 industry report. With this fact in mind, more c-stores may choose to feature prepared foods so it is really important to be educated in food safety so your store can continue to enjoy boosted fresh food sales.
Here are 5 food safety tips for your c-store according to the CDC…
1. Wash hands and surfaces often
Wash your hands to prevent the spread of bacteria, it is also recommended to wear gloves. CDC recommends…
- Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before, during, and after preparing food
- Immediately washing your hands after contact with any sort of raw food (i.e. eggs, raw meat, raw poultry, or raw seafood)
- Washing your produce under running water
2. Prevent cross-contamination
It is important to prevent contamination between foods that can spread germs like eggs or raw meat, poultry, or seafood with ready to eat food like fruits and vegetables. You can do this by…
- Using separate cutting boards, one for things like eggs or raw meat and one for ready to eat foods like fruits or vegetables
- Storing raw meats in separate areas of the fridge as well as storing them in sealed container so that nothing leaks out
- Not washing raw meat, this can spread germs to your sink
3. Cook to the right temperature
Ensure that meats are cooked to the proper temperature, this allows the internal temperature to get high enough to kill off any germs or bacteria that could cause a foodborne illness. Be sure to…
- Use a food thermometer to accurately measure internal temperature
- View this guide for a detailed list of safe internal food temperatures for different kinds of foods
4. Refrigerate properly
Food can become unsafe if it is left out at room temperature or in the “danger zone” which is between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. To avoid this, you can…
- Keep your fridge set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower and your freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower
- Refrigerate perishables within 2 hours
- Package hot/prepared foods in small portions into multiple shallow containers and place them in the refrigerator
- Be sure to always thaw frozen foods the correct way – either in the fridge overnight, in cold water, or in the microwave
5. Train your staff
Training your staff regularly on the topic of food safety is a vital part of ensuring your store is serving safe food to your customers. State Food Safety provides a variety of resources for training your staff that help you put together a successful training program with ease.
With more and more people stopping at c-stores to get a quick bite to eat on a road trip, before work, or just on the way home, it is incredibly important for store owners to take food safety seriously. Be sure to implement these tips and keep your staff up to date on food safety training to protect your customers and to keep serving fresh food at your c-store!