After a lifetime in the food service industry, Francine Shaw still says there's nothing better "than a Friday evening rush that goes well."
"(But) if it's not done well and it's not done right, people can get sick and die," she said. "And that's why we're here."
Shaw is president of Savvy Food Safety Inc., which recently moved from McConnellsburg, Pa., into new quarters in the Mulberry Lofts, 22 N. Mulberry St. in Hagerstown. The company employs four people and several independent contractors, offering training, inspections, curriculum development, crisis management and related services.
"We train everybody from food handlers to CEOs," Shaw said.
The new space includes offices, a conference room, and a training facility. A testing center is being developed.
"It’s been an exciting year of positive changes for our organization. First, we’ve rebranded our former company, Food Safety Training Solutions, to become Savvy Food Safety Inc., because we’re much more than just a training company. We’re food safety subject matter experts, offering a robust roster of services, including training, crisis management, curriculum development, HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) plans, inspections and more,” Shaw said in a news release. "We also speak globally about food safety issues and regularly contribute content and expertise to numerous media outlets."
The company also creates food safety videos for its clients. It also works to help companies update their food safety protocols, including moving away from the pencil-and-paper methods to software systems.
Shaw said her interest in the subject comes naturally. Her grandparents owned a general store, and her parents had a grocery for a time.
"When I was 15 years old, I started out as a fry girl in a fast-food restaurant," she recalled.
She spent a couple of decades with that company and its successor, working her way up through the ranks. She found she enjoyed the training aspect of the industry. Eventually, she got into training full time. Then she started her own company.
Shaw has been featured as a food safety expert in media outlets that range from the Dr. Oz Show to Food Management Magazine, according to the news release. The Savvy Food Safety team has more than 100 combined years of industry experience in restaurants, casinos and convenience stores. They’ve helped numerous clients — including McDonald’s, Subway, Marriott, Domino’s, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America, Dairy Queen and Omni Hotel and Resorts — prevent foodborne illnesses.
Shaw said it's a big problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 will die.
"The numbers are staggering. They're 100 percent preventable," she said.
Shaw says there's a monetary cost, too — some $55.5 billion a year in everything from recalls to legal fees.
"It can happen to anybody," she said. "All it takes is one mistake."