Complacency kills. Whether it’s Listeria, E. coli O157:H7 or Salmonella, we have all witnessed unexpected outbreak after outbreak wreak havoc on the food industry and the customers it serves.  Why do outbreaks happen? Some might say they are destined to occur and, despite best efforts, an unavoidable fact of life.

I disagree. Outbreaks happen because too often the food industry, and the people who serve the industry, become complacent. We think causing outbreaks can and will only happen to somebody else. 

We are all at risk. Every moment of every day. So, what have YOU done today to reduce the risk that it occurs? I ask this question because it is an extremely important question we should each ask ourselves every day. If we are involved in the production and sale of food, we have an awesome responsibility to protect our customers. We are, literally, directly responsible for the health of a nation. And, with that responsibility, we need to be extremely proactive in protecting our customers and our brand.

Each of us should continuously seek to identify potential food safety weaknesses within our companies.  And, then, work to fix them. Be sure to constantly challenge yourself to make at least one improvement every day within your company. Whether it’s taking a new or veteran line worker aside and reminding him or her about the importance of their job, or making a slight change to food safety policy, we should at every moment be doing something new. I call this “leaning forward in the food safety foxhole.” When it comes to food safety, we should never, never, never relent.

We should also work to seek opportunities to share our experiences with our industry colleagues. I carry the message forward by writing articles like this. I am blessed and incredibly thankful to The National Provisioner to allow my voice to be heard. You, too, should look for opportunities to carry the food safety message forward. Search for opportunities to speak at industry conferences, sharing both your successes and failures. The more we learn from each other, the better each of us will become.

Food safety does not and cannot happen in the absence of caring and compassionate people. Commit every day to do something with your compassion. Then, be sure to communicate your efforts.  Constantly remind your colleagues and others in the industry how important food safety is.  You will never know how many lives you safe, although I promise you will save lives. 

Do something today to improve food safety, and tell someone. With a chorus of voices, we can proudly proclaim that our food is, indeed, the safest in the world.  NP