Rockville, MD—Based on results from a 10-year study tracking the retail industry’s efforts to improve food safety factors, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concludes that the presence of certified food safety managers on site to oversee and enforce food safety practices in stores significantly increases compliance with food safety practices. The FDA report states that compliance in produce markets was 86% with a manager, versus 79% without.

The 10-year study looked at more than 800 retail food establishments between 1998 and 2008 to assess five key risk factors: food from unsafe sources, poor personal hygiene, inadequate cooking, improper food holding (time and temperature), and contaminated food surfaces and equipment. The FDA reports marked improvements in meat and poultry markets/departments and produce markets and departments over the 10-year study period. However, it highlights the need for improvement in regards to personal hygiene, improper holding of food and contaminated foods surfaces and equipment. FDA recommends the employment of certified food safety managers as a means for reducing these three key risk factors.

The FDA report also states: “As of January 2009, 49 of 50 states report having retail codes patterned after prior editions of the Food Code…and [we] urge all to update their existing codes and initiate rule-making that is consistent with the 2009 Food Code.” The FDA issues an updated Food Code every couple of years. The Food Code recommends standards for management and personnel as well as food operation, equipment and facility regulations. It provides prevention-oriented and science-based food safety guidance and training to ensure markets, departments, restaurants, schools and hospitals are fully informed of the importance and the practice of food safety.

The full report, FDA Trend Analysis Report on the Occurrence of Foodborne Illness Risk Factors in Selected Institutional Foodservice, Restaurant, and Retail Food Store Facility Types (1998-2008) is available at

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, December 2010 (published ahead of print on November 1, 2010)