Partnership allows restaurants to conduct retail sales

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Courtesy Michael Buck

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) are teaming up to enable restaurants to sell food and pantry items that previously could be sold only by grocery and retail stores.

The two organizations said Monday that they will provide guidance to Michigan’s restaurant industry, which already is trained in food safety and sanitation, on how to label food to conduct retail sales.

Through this new partnership, restaurants can receive training on proper labeling so they can sell food and pantry items directly to consumers, which will offer more options to Michigan consumers and keep the supply chain “moving in more directions,” the organizations said.

“Michigan’s food and agriculture industry continues to demonstrate why it is considered one of the most diverse, innovative and nimble in the nation,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “This partnership is yet another example of how our businesses and our state agencies have worked together to solve problems quickly, not only for the industry but also for Michigan consumers.”

Gary McDowell, director of MDARD, said the state agency partnered with MRLA to solve the needs the private association was hearing about.

“When Michigan distilleries say they can change their operations to make much-needed hand sanitizer, MDARD paves the regulatory road and gets out of the way,” he said. “And when restaurants tell us they have excess food coming in that could be sold directly to consumers, we work with MRLA to help get that done.”

Justin Winslow, MRLA president and CEO, said allowing restaurants to sell food as a retailer also can help grocery stores, which are “overwhelmed with unprecedented demand.”

“The food supply chain for the restaurant industry is vetted, reliable and a great resource to supplement traditional grocery stores,” he said. “Having restaurants sell typical grocery items will help support the extremely taxed grocery stores and provide customers with access to the essential food supplies they need during the ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ executive order issued by Gov. Whitmer.”

The MRLA provided the guidance documents on its website for all industry members seeking to provide support to the grocery stores.

Foodservice operators can find at the above link free ServSafe food safety training specific to takeout and delivery services that provides specific resources for keeping food safe amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

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