September is National Food Safety Education Month. And, unfortunately, the subject of food safety is not a sexy one. There...I said it. In fact, it's hard to think of a topic that is more mundane. But I urge you to read on none the less.

At some point in our lives, all of us are impacted by food borne illness. According to the CDC, 1 in 6 Americans, approximately 48 million people, will be sickened by a food borne illness this year alone; 128,000 of those folks will require a hospital stay and, shockingly, some 3,000 will die.

In a country where so many meals are consumed outside the home, it is hard to overstate the significance of these numbers as they relate to the foodservice industry. The simple truth is that only a public that feels confident about their safety when eating away from home will continue to do so.

Every foodservice operator knows, or should know, that there is no quicker way to derail a successful operation than to have a food safety issue traced back to their kitchen. And that reality naturally extends back to every distributor, sales rep, service agent, consultant and manufacturer; everyone, in fact, who has the potential to impact the successful delivery of a safe meal to the consumer.

As Stephanie Shimp, vice president of marketing and owner of Blue Plate Restaurant Company, based in Minnesota's Twin Cities, points out, "Coming in and thinking you might leave with a food borne illness should not be a guest's concern." Of course for operators like Stephanie their passion lies in serving customers and creating a hospitable environment that leads to repeat business. As a result, operators rely on their supply chain partners to help them design, equip and supply an environment that is sanitary and food safe. "If people have food particulates on their fork, they don't have to come back because there always seems to be a new kid on the block," says Shimp.

If you find the coverage of this important topic useful, take the opportunity to sign up for FE&S' food safety webcast that will take place at 1p.m. (CST) on September 27. "Lessons Learned from Health Inspection," is an interactive webcast that will provide information about what steps operators should take to pass a health inspection. Vito Palazzolo of the National Restaurant Association and Zena Dater of Oswalt Restaurant Supply, a pair of foodservice professionals with a long and distinguished track record in the area of food safety and health inspections, will share their many years of experience and expertise with all of the participants. Visit us at and follow the link to sign up!

Hopefully, everyone has gotten the word by now about the new dates for NRA next spring. The G8 summit will take place in Chicago the third week in May, the traditional weekend for NRA, and has forced the date change. For us, the change will also mean a new venue for next year's DOY event. The 2012 FE&S Dealer of the Year and Industry Awards Gala will take place May 5 at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago.