Having worked in both foodservice operations and as a distributor sales rep, I’ve heard my fair share of complaining about health inspectors. They never showed up at a good time, their grievances — expressed as points on a checklist — always seemed trivial and I remember everyone viewing their presence as an unwelcome hassle in an already overwrought day.

It was only with the benefit of hindsight that I’ve come to appreciate the health inspector’s contribution to the hospitality industry. It eventually dawned on me that the tremendous number of meals that we Americans eat outside our homes is due to the trust we place in the safety of the food that restaurants serve us. Of course, inspectors play an important role, but given the sheer number of foodservice outlets out there, much of that trust must be placed in the hands of the operators themselves. By and large, operators do an amazing job day in and day out. They know the stakes are high and without public confidence in food safety, they will not be in business for very long.

More than that, losing the public’s trust has real-world consequences that anyone in foodservice must understand and internalize. One of the saddest funerals that I ever attended was for a former colleague’s four-year-old child who had the misfortune of eating a few bites from an undercooked hamburger at a state fair and tragically died as the result of E. coli poisoning. The senseless loss of life in an otherwise healthy toddler is not easily forgotten.

Here at FE&S, we believe that we have a role to play in keeping our readers informed about the latest developments and best practices in food safety — lives depend on it. That’s why the topic is emphasized in this issue (page 44), which coincides with Food Safety Education Month, and throughout the year on our website. Editorial Director Joe Carbonara will host a free webcast on this always-vital topic on Sept. 19. I encourage everyone reading this issue to attend. Register at FESmag.com/foodsafety2019.