To build trust, market food safety at retail, especially after an outbreak that kills

How should retailers market cantaloupe after last year’s listeria outbreak killed at least 33 and sickened at least another 146?

Armand Lobato, who works for the Idaho Potato Commission, has some ideas, which he shared in The Packer.

“As a produce manager, I would build a display appropriate for a generations-old relationship, not only between the bonafide, reputable growers and our chain but considering what the shipper brands and the Rocky Ford name have come to mean to our customers.

“I would make sure the display is placed prominently in the produce department, with a hearty spillover, as neatly well-stocked and rotated as any other display.

“I would also provide information for customers who wanted more information about the melons (as I’m sure the chain would provide anyhow). I would post this on the back of my large easel-sized sign and include what steps have been taken since last season. If I was the produce manager I would make sure that my crew knew every detail so they could answer customers’ questions, face-to-face.”

Sounds like marketing food safety at retail. I’m a fan of that. When Maple Leaf deli meats killed 23 Canadians in 2008, there were no such displays at retail. There was lots of talk, but to really regain trust, be completely transparent – and that includes safety data available to those who want it.