Before our food reaches the dinner table, it travels and passes through different stages of distribution from procurement to processing, and finally to our local grocery stores. The freshness of the meat we prepare at home, or the quality of the salad and sandwich we eat for brunch, depends on a lot of factors.
When it comes to food integrity, factors such as food production, cold chain, merchandise display and storage, and food preparation each have a role to play. Here’s how these factors affect the food we consume:
Most food nowadays is either produced on farms or in manufacturing companies. As the jump-off point of food products, food production and processing play a significant role in the overall food quality and safety of food. Food production companies have the opportunity, not just to standardize processing and achieve the highest quality of food products, but also to prevent and mitigate food contamination and foodborne illness outbreaks.
For temperature-sensitive food products, such as milk, dairy, meat, and ice cream, the cold chain greatly affects product integrity. Distributing goods from manufacturers to food retail stores, every step along the cold chain is crucial. If one step breaks, it can lead to damaged or lost goods. That is why maintaining the cold chain by making sure the proper temperature is set for the specific product involved is important to preserve the quality of food products. Investing in refrigeration solutions that address the complexities of the cold chain helps assure that the integrity of the food remains intact.
Merchandise Display and Storage
Once food products arrive at the grocery stores, food retailers have the responsibility to preserve the quality of the food and make it saleable and safe to consume. One way to keep food integrity intact in grocery stores is through correct merchandising and storage. Using display cases that are suitable for various temperature applications, along with proper display case lighting that retains food color and taste, will help retailers maintain merchandise integrity. Likewise, for food storage, utilizing refrigeration solutions, such as coolers and freezers, will help keep food products fresh for a longer period.
Whether preparing food at home or in restaurants, correct handling of food is essential, not just for the food’s integrity, but mostly for health and safety reasons. Washing of hands, keeping raw foods separate, and cooking and storing food at the right temperature are just some of the correct ways to prepare food and help assure the integrity of that food remains intact.
The stages that food products go through before they hit our dinner plate are more complex and detailed than we think. This proves that the food retail industry is composed of an interconnected web of components that are vital for maintaining the integrity of the food we eat. Through a reinforced supply chain and well-thought-out operational strategy, we can effectively maintain food integrity and add to customer satisfaction and value.