Food safety culture is not just a catchy phrase or the right thing to say. It is the right thing to embrace and the right thing to implement. But how is it achieved? It is relevant to start with understanding “The Why” behind food safety. Why is it important? Do people really get sick and die? Why does that happen, and what is our role in preventing it? How do we integrate aspects of FSMA with a culture that embraces a robust food safety culture, and how do we create passion around the culture? I continue to address this issue, because at nearly every meeting I attend, in committees in which I serve and in simple conversations with colleagues, I hear the frantic voices of those who have so much to do, results to produce, bosses to please, and staff to supervise, and the why behind food safety is rarely mentioned.
I speak to and read about individuals daily who have been sick or lost children or parents to this preventable problem. I see the photos of their children and hear about their loving attributes, yet this aspect is often neglected in the equation of the busy lives of those involved in growing, producing and distributing our food. I get it—who wants to talk about the problem when there is a product to promote and sell? But in reality, the only reason any of us live this frantic life with a long to-do list is because people get sick and die from foodborne illnesses, and because it is our job to do what we can to prevent the illnesses. And while consumers can practice safe food handling, there is nothing they can do about Salmonella in peanut butter, or Listeria in ice cream, cantaloupe or caramel apples. Let’s start the conversation of HOW to change and sustain a strong food safety culture and include the why as our rationale in the conversation. STOP Foodborne Illness is interested and will devote more time to the how, and I hope you will join us in this conversation and endeavor. I would love to hear your thoughts.