The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a 10-year tracking report that calls for increased focus on food safety practices in retail food establishments.

A companion 2009 retail food report highlights the need for certified food protection managers to help achieve higher food-safety compliance levels.

The 1998-2008 tracking report, which studied more than 800 retail food establishments in 1998, 2003 and 2008, focused on five key risk factors: (i) food from unsafe sources, (ii) poor personal hygiene, (iii) inadequate cooking, (iv) improper holding of food (time and temperature), and (v) contaminated food surfaces and equipment. According to an FDA press release, “continued improvements are needed across the board” regarding personal hygiene, holding of food and food surfaces and equipment.

The 2009 report found that the presence of a certified food protection manager in full-service restaurants, delicatessens, seafood markets, and produce markets was correlated with “statistically significant higher compliance levels with food safety practices and behaviors” than facilities without one. According to FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor, the agency has also encouraged state, local and tribal regulatory agencies to adopt the FDA Model Food Code that recommends standards for management, personnel, food operations, equipment, and facilities to enhance retail food safety. “The key to food safety is prevention at every step from farm to table,” Taylor said. “Food retail managers, like growers or processors, have a responsibility to reduce