Food safety in the retail environment

Monge, Ana
Major Professor
Keith . Vorst
Angela M. Shaw
Committee Member
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Food Science and Human Nutrition

Retail establishments have the responsibility to deliver safe food to consumers. This research focuses on food safety in the retail environment from three different perspectives: refrigeration of fruits and vegetables, food handling behavior of produce stockers, and migration of harmful chemicals from packaging into food. The recent information provided gives an updated perspective to food safety issues such as produce refrigeration in retail establishments, food handler behavior, and perfluorinated compound migration in microwave popcorn. Twenty-five open and closed display cases stocked with produce from four retailers in five states of the United States (US) were monitored in eight positions for temperature and relative humidity (RH) conditions. Significant factors were doors, retailer, and sensor positions. Abuse time and variability in temperature and RH conditions were reduced in closed display cases. Employee behavior and food handling practices were observed in a casual way in retail stores in four states of the US over a period of 12 months. Observations were recorded and classified into topics for handwashing, stocking and rotation, handling of fallen produce, display case cleaning, customer behavior, refrigeration and temperature control, maintenance, cross-contamination, and employee health and hygiene. The developed reinforcement training material for retail produce stockers includes two posters, three flipcharts, one extension publication, and one training video. The proposed implementation was described considering the development or maintenance of a food safety culture. Perfluoro octanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) used to be added to food contact paper packaging and can be harmful to human health. Quantification of PFOA and PFOS on seven popcorn bags and three snack and sandwich bags show that two popcorn bags contain PFOA above the method’s limit of quantitation and all samples were below the limits of detection for PFOS. Studies from 2005 to 2018 suggest a reduction in PFOA and PFOS levels over time in this type of packaging.