To ensure that it's preparing safe food for its foodservice customers, Hy-Vee Inc. has partnered with CM Systems LLC to deploy the ComplianceMate food safety system across its entire portfolio of brands. The system is now being used in all of the grocer's in-store kitchens servicing its Italian, Asian, Hickory House, Market Grill, Meat, seafood, deli and bakery areas.
"Through our partnership with ComplianceMate, we are ensuring our customers the best experience, the highest-quality food and the safest food prep," said Chuck Seaman, VP of food protection and compliance at Hy-Vee.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), foodborne illness remains a major public health concern, causing approximately 48 million illnesses and 3,000 deaths each year, and costing roughly $77.7 billion annually in the United States. Food safety practices in retail food establishments continue to play a critical role in preventing foodborne illness.
The importance of implementing food safety programs in food retail settings was confirmed in May, when the FDA released the “FDA Report on the Occurrence of Foodborne Illness Risk Factors in Retail Food Store Deli Departments.” In the report, FDA observed that delis with well-developed food safety management systems were more likely to properly control foodborne illness risk factors than delis with less developed systems.
The ComplianceMate system uses a customizable food safety management software that automatically tracks key indicators of food safety risk. As the system generates data, it can alert any level of management — from store level to corporate offices — of potentially unsafe food before the food is served to the public.
"We've already seen terrific engagement from our stores," said Ellen Ciarimboli, director of food protection at Hy-Vee. "It's getting employees even more involved than they already were."
ComplianceMate also facilitates above-unit auditing for Hy-Vee and its third-party auditing group. Auditors now use the ComplianceMate system to gather and preview food safety data prior to entering stores. This data allows them to be more prepared with a proactive plan of action based on data gathered and analyzed in advance, so they can complete their quality and food safety reviews faster.
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ComplianceMate allows Hy-Vee to create almost any type of configurable checklists for any regulatory or brand-specific compliance benchmarks that could be alarmed with smart notifications. That way, the system can proactively draw attention to potential issues long before they become actual problems.
In turn, this functionality offers Hy-Vee leaders greater real-time visibility into each store's food safety performance. "Seeing that data come in enables us to see what departments in specific stores are performing well or need support," said Ciarimboli.
"ComplianceMate protects brands and their customers, but in the process, it also delivers enhanced operational effectiveness through analytics, dashboards, etc.," said Steve Getraer, president of Lawrenceville, Ga.-based CM Systems. "We empower teams to achieve elite food safety performance with even less labor, ultimately improving service to Hy-Vee's own customers."
Employee-owned Hy-Vee has a team of more than 86,000 employees and operates more than 280 retail stores across eight Midwestern states, with sales of $11 billion annually. The West Des Moines, Iowa-based company is No. 34 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.