The first-ever Fresh Foods Survey conducted by Supermarket News has revealed that food safety is by far retailers’ greatest concern--50 percent of survey respondents said that food safety is one of their “biggest fears”.

One respondent commented that there’s “too much negative publicity regarding food safety,” And this anxiety is no surprise given the massive and well-publicized food recalls that have surfaced over the past few months--Blue Bell, Heinz, Whole Foods Market and Beech-Nut have all recalled items such as ice cream, processed baby food and nuts for everything from microbiological contamination to the presence of foreign matter. It’s a fine line for retailers because even when stores are not responsible for the recall, they must still go through the motions of properly handling that recall, many times having to deal face-to-face with consumers who want answers, and feeling the wrath via social media.

Other comments provided in the survey point to greater need for employee training on the retail level. As seasoned staff members retire, they are replaced by a much younger workforce who are “poorly trained” and do not have any knowledge of the importance of product rotation or food safety.

With nearly half the year already passed and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to finalize rules for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), retailers’ food safety concerns will not abate. In addition to keeping food safety a priority, they will also have to begin working closely with their suppliers and distributors to ensure all paperwork is in order per new FSMA standards and regulations.