Meetings offer benefits to food businesses

Andi Goddeyne

Andi Goddeyne

Mesa County Health Department restaurant industry and consumer meetings offer a perfect networking opportunity for retail food businesses in the Grand Valley. The meetings cover educational topics and industry trends.

The next meeting is set for 2:30 to 4 p.m. March 7 at the department, 510 29 1/2 Road in Grand Junction. For more information, call 248-6900 or visit www.health.mesacounty.us.

Outreach remains an important aspect of keeping a community connected and unified. These meetings serve as a chance for retail food establishments in the area to connect with consumers. Meeting other industry members and consumers constitutes one simple step in establishing brand recognition in Grand Junction. Creating these relationships can help build a loyal customer base.

On average, repeat customers spend 67 percent more money than new customers at a business. The Grand Valley is full of potential customers, and networking offers a way to make a business stand out. According to the Harvard Business Review, professional networks improve knowledge, innovation and greater status or authority. These meetings help businesses stay in touch with customers and remain at the forefront of consumers’ minds.

The retail food industry can be difficult to navigate. Portions of these meetings are dedicated to educating not only restaurant industry members, but also consumers. Presentations are food safety driven, but inspection oriented. Health inspectors present inspection trends and answer questions about the inspection process and industry standards. The primary goal of each meeting is to teach and clarify food safety misunderstandings.

Face-to-face time with health inspectors offers advantages because participants can provide feedback on the inspection process and have their specific questions answered thoroughly. These meetings are also designed to help prevent common violations. If there’s a violation trend in facilities, inspectors address these issues during the meetings. This not only helps managers in attendance prevent future violations, but also gives staff the chance to voice their opinions or discuss their interpretations of regulations. Inspectors are not adversaries — they’re resources. They’re part of the Mesa County Health Department outreach program and want to help businesses serve safe food and prevent outbreaks of food-borne illnesses.

Restaurant industry and consumers meetings offer a safe environment to obtain the information employees and consumers need about food safety. It can be intimidating to speak to health inspectors during an inspection at a restaurant. The meetings offer a more comfortable setting that makes asking questions and reaching out to inspectors less stressful.

Educating people in Mesa County can help prevent food-borne illnesses. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 48 million food-borne illnesses and nearly 3,000 deaths in the United States each year. Spreading awareness in both the retail food industry and community about the risks associated with preparing food can prevent illness.

Regularly attending restaurant industry and consumer meetings creates professional industry and friendly customer relationships, which in turn leads to greater traction with the customer base in the Grand Valley. Networking has been proven to help businesses succeed. Education has been proven to prevent health violations and food-borne illness. Taking advantage of both help retail food businesses grow and their customers to remain safe.

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Andi Goddeyne is a senior at Colorado Mesa University studying mass communication. She also works part-time as a communication focused staff member of the consumer protection team at the Mesa County Health Department.
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