Food safety awareness is at an all time high, new and emerging threats to the food supply are being recognized, and the food supply is becoming more global. These trends are occurring worldwide.
As a food safety professional, as you think about the risks in today’s modern food system and how you might improve the food safety performance within your organization or area of responsibility, what are the first thoughts that come to mind? Do you think about creating a bigger or better food safety program? If you do, although you may be well intentioned, you might be missing the mark. I believe your goal should be to create a food safety culture – not a food safety program. There is a big difference between the two.
Culture is a word that is getting used often in today’s society, maybe even overused. What does it really mean? As a food safety professional, culture may be one of those terms that seems a little fuzzy or maybe even abstract. It may be hard for us to objectively grab the concept. You might feel much more comfortable talking about specific microbes, food safety standards, and process controls. We often consider these the hard science. You might feel less comfortable talking about terms related to organizational culture and human behavior – often referred to as the “soft stuff.”
However, if you look at foodborne disease trends over the past few decades, it’s clear to me that the soft stuff is still the hard stuff. We won’t make dramatic improvements in reducing the global burden of foodborne disease, especially in certain parts of the food system and world, until we get much better at influencing and changing human behavior (the soft stuff).
It is my hope that by sharing new concepts and food safety approaches with you that are more closely linked to organizational culture and human behavior, we’ll learn from one another, create a food safety culture worldwide, and improve the quality of life for people around the world.
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