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Deirdre Schlunegger, STOP Foodborne Illness
Food Safety Culture Club

Make a Difference During Food Safety Month

By Deirdre Schlunegger
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Deirdre Schlunegger, STOP Foodborne Illness

The end of the summer is near. Children are back in school, holiday plans are on people’s minds, and National Food Safety Month is upon us, with an abundance of ideas for helping our families and friends stay safe. Even Global Handwashing Day is October 15. Who knew? There are many tips available for consumer awareness and multiple conferences for professionals in the food safety industry. Food Safety Month provides a reality check, reminding all of us that accountability lies with everyone, from the farm to the kitchen table. I am grateful that STOP Foodborne Illness has so many amazing volunteers who generously contribute their time and passion, sharing their experience with the food industry. Everyday companies tell us that adding stories at the beginning of a presentation makes an enormous difference for employees. Starting mandatory training with a personal account of foodborne illness grabs people’s attention—they sit up and take notice. It demonstrates that risks are real and that individuals do make a difference each time they follow safety guidelines and implement critical interventions.  

Your diligence and commitment make a difference every day.

Recently at the IAFP conference in Portland, Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director, Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases at the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases commented (and I am paraphrasing) that there is a challenge in measuring one’s effectiveness when it comes to food safety; how do you know when you have prevented an illness?  

We are immensely proud of our work and ability to provide volunteers and staff members to speak at company events or be part of an orientation or a food safety video.  We are proud to work with The Kroger Company, Wegmans, Walmart , Kwik Trip, FDA, FSIS and others who see the value in bringing the personal story forward.

That is how we make a difference.

Guidance and regulations are critically important. And individuals working in companies who get it and understand the importance and consequences of doing the right thing—regardless of requirements—those who embrace a food safety culture, these are the people who ultimately make the biggest difference.

Thanks for all you do for food safety.