Introduction to HITM's Program for Worldwide Retail Food Excellence

Purpose. The purpose of this web site is to provide a vision for a better retail food industry, worldwide, tomorrow. It then provides a plan of continuous quality improvement through Research and Development followed by communication, whereby those who wish can use the information from this knowledge base. If they wish, they can also use services provided by HITM to achieve their future goals. Product sales, contracts, and gifts from industry, operators, and others support the program.

Why worldwide? Today, and in the future, retail food operations from any one country can be expected to be everywhere in the world. It is very inefficient to have different retail food operating rules depending on what country one is in. This is especially true in term of food safety. People are sensitive to the same hazards everywhere they are, and the same hazards can be found throughout the world. So, why should we use one set of rules to kill salmonellae in the US and another in other countries? This will also allow the retail food process technologists to better share information and to do process FMEA (Failure Mode Effect Analysis) to improve safety, customer satisfaction, and efficiency.

One key to getting to a better tomorrow as soon as possible is to use the most correct logic and scientific facts. I welcome peer review of all the material at this web site, and of any documents furnished by HITM. Please, however, be positive and specific about which facts are inaccurate and cite the references for your better solution.

Industry self control. Specifically, one cannot rely on the government. Government has, as its primary responsibility, regulation and enforcement. Inspection is after-the-fact and does not prevent problems, especially when government control facts are out of date. The government is not accountable for providing correct, up-to-date prevention technology. It is not responsible for using the best people in a field to make decisions.

The "perfect world" of food safety is a world without government inspection and regulation, because industry is preventing problems and controlling hazards. This means that the government today should be trying to make the industry so good that government regulators are not needed. Actually, this poses a very serious conflict of interest for the regulatory system. Government personnel will not do anything that will eliminate their jobs and the jobs of people that work for them. Yes, there needs to be a government body that can prosecute the few operators who do not deal honestly with the consumer. Actually, though, without government intervention, the unethical operators are found out by their customers, who simply do not return, and those operators go out of business. Sometimes, the government sponsors research and development, and in this case, they are helpful if they sponsor the correct research. Most of the time, they sponsor basic research, while what is needed is retail food system applied research.

The retail food system. What is included in the retail food system? The best specification is "that point in the deliver of food to the consumer where the food is sold/given to the either in the raw form or prepared form." It is the point of primary accountability. Why this specification? Because all food handing processes in this environment are the same. The cook/server/sales person is the primary point for assuring quality and customer satisfaction. It specifically includes the person who prepares food in the home, because the same food handling rules/recipes apply. One set of food science and technology fits all. The cook is the final critical control point to assure quality. First, the cooks are the ones to reject the food if it does not look good. Then, they do specific steps (e.g., cooking) to make it safe. Finally, they handle/serve it correctly so that the consumer will be pleased and nourished, and not be made sick, when the food is eaten. Perhaps, the person farming the oysters is careful and the oysters are safe. The cook/server, though, is still the person held primarily responsible for quality.

Quality. It is important to define quality. Quality is in the beholder's eyes. There are therefore three components to quality: 1) The consumer and government want food to be safe when it is eaten. Hazardous components are below a level that will harm the consumer. 2) The consumer wants to be pleased by the food and receive a good value. 3) The owner wants tasks to be performed as efficiently and effectively as possible so as to minimize the cost of operating the food establishment/home.

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