FOOD SAFETY CULTURE
Food Safety Culture refers to the attitudes, beliefs, practices, and values of a site regarding prevention of food safety hazards. The term culture has been incorporated in most Global standards and in countries’ food safety regulations. This is not easy to asess but it is possible by setting measurable goals and achieving high ratings in programs’ evaluations by independent qualified parties.
As a food safety professional with vast experience working in many countries, you learn to identify when a place has built a strong food safety culture. It is evident in the responses from those interviewed and in management and employees’ behaviors and attitudes.
BEHAVIORS AND ATTITUDES
I am not writing this time like a food safety professional does. The professional with technical and historical knowledge of events in the industry, but like the professional with vast experience dealing with personnel and situations where attitudes and behaviors have led to undesirable results. I am this time talking about my experiences and ideas I got from these situations and recommended approaches to overcome them.
Many years ago I worked for a company where management and employees were disconnected, unmotivated, and disengaged from the objectives to produce safe food products and meeting consumer expectations. The employees’ grievance and unsatisfaction led the to sabotage the operations by breaking equipment intentionally to stop processes. In the meantime, whether the site was in operations or not, employees got paid as stated in the contract with the Union.
Behaviors and attitudes were extremely negative from top to bottom. I liked to compare the organization with a human body.
The company’s body was not healthy. There was a lack of ideas, plans and strategies from the head of the company. The body parts were paralyzed, no movement toward production and success. There was no love or passion for the company or each other. Many of the readers may have lived a similar situation. There was a need to have a healthy brain, with ideas and plans to insprire and put the body parts in motion to produce. A need to love and develop passion.
Agape. Greek word for love. Referring to unconditional love. The word has been translated literally as affection among individuals and for a particular activity.
Obviously the organization lacked affection, it lacked passion. It is a complex and a tough task to build affection among large groups of individuals. In this particular situation it took a great deal of effort to get all parties: management and workforce to meet and open to listen. The “agape” message was delivered and a compromise built to go over sessions to talk openly and working toward building affection and passion to take a turn in the path for personal and business’ improvement. Steps to build a healthy culture started.
On the second part of this article, we will start talking about the approaches taken to change the company’s culture.