Monday, April 25, 2022 - 17:00
Doug Farquhar, JD
Email of Blog Poster:
NEHA organized a site visit for Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA) at a local Harris Teeter grocery store in Williamsburg, Virginia, on Friday, April 22.
Representative Wittman, cochair of the Congressional Public Health Caucus, worked with NEHA to include the environmental health workforce within the congressional resolution that recognized and commended public health professionals for their work during the pandemic. During that work, Representative Wittman’s office asked if he could visit a retail food facility to learn about and discuss food safety.
After some searching, Harris Teeter came forward and agreed to host the visit. Their Lightfoot Marketplace store in Williamsburg provided the perfect opportunity for Representative Wittman to tour a retail store in his district and learn about current food safety practices.
Representative Wittman knows and appreciates the retail food safety business. As a former dairy stocker and grocery clerk, he remembered the effort it took to ensure foods were properly shelved and remained fresh. The dairy case at Harris Teeter gets restocked 3 times each day. It takes many professionals to ensure that milk comes from the processing facility to retailers to consumers in a safe, efficient manner each day.
The store was fully stocked, unlike last year during the pandemic. Harris Teeter noted that an increase in local sourcing from farmers and food processers ensured that products were available. Retailers across the county had trouble restocking imported items due to the pandemic and local sources aided in keeping food products on the shelves.
Representative Wittman has a particular interest in seafood. As a former seafood inspector for the state of Virginia, he understands the importance of safe packaging of meat products. He spoke of biofilm on meats that leads to spoilage.
Prior to Congress, Representative Wittman worked with the Food and Drug Administration on its seafood hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) program. He was involved with the testing of seafood to learn how norovirus, Listeria, or other foodborne pathogens emerge and spread in seafood processing facilities.
Representative Wittman showed a keen interest in ensuring that the nation’s retail food safety system remains safe, well stocked, and provides a wide variety of foods to consumers in the U.S.
NEHA looks forward to working with Representative Wittman on future public health and food safety efforts.