The greatest challenge for the food industry over the past decade has been to continuously find new and better ways to make our food supply safer.  Some companies focused on improving their sanitation programs, some companies focused on improving their HACCP plans and some companies focused on investing in new interventions.  There were even some companies that focused on all of these. 

Yet, far fewer companies focused on what matters most: people.

I have always said that any good platoon will only be as fast as its slowest runner.  Thus, in order to truly succeed when it comes to food safety, we have to find ways to make our employees better. 

The place to start is by embracing the three “Cs” of Food Safety: Compassion, Commitment and Culture.  Each of these attributes, by definition, will be highly important in anything we do. However, when it comes to food safety, all three are critical.

  • Food safety will never exist in any organization if there is no compassion.  The only reason people will be motivated to make food safety a priority is if they are compassionate about not making people sick.  To be effective, this type of compassion must be the same type and level of compassion you reserve for your family.  For the middle-management and line employees to show this level of compassion in their daily jobs, it must first be embraced and communicated by the corporate leadership.  Put simply, you need to show more compassion. 
  • The corporate leadership must also demonstrate a commitment to food safety.  It is one thing to say you are compassionate about not making people sick, but you must also invest in the actual programs, training and interventions that are required to make it happen.  To succeed, corporate leadership must fully support the efforts of the management and employees who are trying to embrace it as well.  In addition to supporting new food safety-oriented initiatives and technologies, you should also recognize and reward employees weekly for excellence in food safety.  Such programs will enhance the visibility and prominence of food safety in the company, and also get employees talking about it.
  • If a company’s corporate leadership shows compassion for food safety and commits to support it, a robust food-safety culture will eventually develop.  With continued support, this culture will flow from the top, and eventually permeate every aspect of the operation.  And, once it takes hold, it will become part of the organizational “speak” and continue to grow.  I have seen this happen on many occasions.

 We are moving into a world where food safety matters, where food safety is maturing and where, for the first time ever, food safety is marketable.  By embracing the three “Cs” of food safety, you stand apart from your competitors and closer to your customers.