For a food safety plan to work, everyone must see its value and follow it -- automatically. And that starts with creating a food safety culture.

Want a Food Safety Plan People Value? Ask These 9 Questions

For a food safety plan to work, everyone must see its value and follow it -- automatically. And that starts with creating a food safety culture.

A food safety plan works when everyone sees its value

For a food safety plan to work, everyone must recognize its value and follow it — automatically. To achieve that, businesses can create a food safety “culture” – and that starts with asking some fundamental questions.

Why food safety culture matters

There’s been a lot of buzz about food safety culture. But it makes sense…

As FDA’s Stephen Ostroff, M.D says, “The best defense is to comply with the new [FSMA] requirements, and document how you are creating a food safety culture where everyone understands the expectations…”

In other words, does everyone from the QA team, managers, executives and floor workers understand — and value — the food safety plan?

Consider these audit scenarios

Scenario 1:

A company creates a food safety plan. They implement the training and are ready to test it out. So, they hire an auditor. When he arrives on the production floor, one worker hides — literally. And another turns to jelly when the auditor asks him to explain a procedure. Clearly, the audit reveals that something is not working between management and the workers.

Scenario 2:

The auditor asks the CEO of a small company how many QA people he has. The CEO replies, “I have seventy-five QA people.”  To this CEO, every person at his company is a QA specialist. That translates to everyone understanding and valuing the food safety plan.

In the second scenario, there’s an overall company culture in place. Everyone, from workers to managers, aligns to that culture and its values. And they understand and appreciate the importance of following the food safety plan. The end result: compliance becomes automatic – even when the boss is not looking.

Start with these 9 questions for food safety plan success

A food business can have the best food safety plan, but the plan’s success lies in its perceived value. In other words, everyone has to feel they’re part of the food safety culture. And developing that culture starts with management asking some fundamental questions…

Do my employees:

  1. Enjoy working for my company?
  2. Like working for me?
  3. Have the materials and equipment they need to do their best work?
  4. Feel I understand their strengths and weaknesses?
  5. Commit to doing quality work?
  6. Go the extra mile in their work?
  7. Have the opportunity to learn and grow?
  8. Feel accomplished in their jobs?
  9. Like their jobs?

This list is adapted from the Sunny Delight case study

Of course, the answers to these questions reveal how employees feel about their work. And they also indicate if an employee feels valued. That’s important, because if they feel valued, they’ll be more engaged and supportive of all company objectives — including the food safety plan. Ultimately, the proof will lie in everyone following the food safety plan — even when nobody’s watching.

What are your thoughts for developing an effective food safety plan? What has worked/not worked well? Please share your thoughts in the comments or with your food industry LinkedIn groups.

And if you need help buying, selling or recycling your food ingredients, please feel free to contact us here.

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