Thought for food: Safety program offers win-win situation

Mary Cornforth Cawood
Mary Cornforth Cawood

What if there was a free marketing tool to promote your business? What if that same tool also provided tips and strategies for assuring high-quality products that distinguish you for excellence in your field?

For local retail food establishments, that tool is available in the Mesa County Public Health Partnership for Food Safety. The program recognizes licensed retail food establishments for excellent food safety practices.  Currently, 27 businesses operating at 69 facilities in Mesa County participate in the program.

To participate, partners must meet the following criteria:

At least 90 percent of food handlers at their facilities must hold a Mesa County Food Handler Card.

Food safety certified managers work at the facilities.

Score at least 70 percent on an active managerial control self-assessment. What’s active managerial control? Put simply, it means facility managers take a proactive role to ensure food safety by developing standard operating procedures, training staff and verifying results.

Twelve facilities recently were recognized for their work to become partners: 626 on Rood, Community Hospital, Dairy Queen of Fruita, Enzo’s Pizza Shack in Clifton, Enzo’s Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant in Grand Junction, Mesa County School District 51, Olive Garden, Palisade Café 11.0, Pinnacle Venue Services at Two Rivers Convention Center, Rockslide Brewpub, Sodexo at Colorado Mesa University and Texas Roadhouse.

The program empowers food service staff with resources and knowledge. Vincenzo Favale, the owner of both Enzo’s locations, said he’s already seeing the benefits of becoming a partner.  “We have seen a lot of excitement from the staff, and they have a much clearer picture of what our facilities’ objectives are in serving safe food to the public,” Favale said. “I don’t have to be on top of my employees. I know they’re checking everything themselves and making sure things are where they should be.”

How do businesses become a partner?

Complete an active managerial control self-assessment and submit it to Mesa County Public Health for review.

MCPH conducts an unannounced inspection to verify practices.

Partners receive a certificate of recognition and window decal. They’re also listed on the MCPH website.

Mesa County Public Health accepts applications on an ongoing basis and encourages businesses to contact the department at 248-6900 or health@mesacounty.us for more information.

Participating in the Mesa County Public Health Partnership for Food Safety constitutes part of a sound business plan that appeals to consumers. It is a win-win situation. Consumers take comfort in knowing businesses have taken the extra steps to ensure food safety. Businesses benefit from the recognition.

Visit health.mesacounty.us and click on “restaurant inspections” to view the list of partners and find out more about them.