Food Safety: The Winnable Battle

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February 12, 2015

Lisa Lupo

This issue of QA takes a bit of a different approach from that which we generally cover. Rather than featuring the food safety and quality practices and challenges of a food or beverage facility in our cover story, we turn our attention to the consumer’s food safety practices and challenges, the impact that has on the food industry, and what industry can do to help change behavior. (See The Food Safety Battle, page 10)

However, even while presenting the issues and understanding that up to 21% of foodborne illness is attributable to unsafe food-handling practices in the home, we need to recognize that this means that at least 79% is caused elsewhere along the food chain. Granted, restaurants and foodservice facilities are generally implicated as having a rate of attribution at least as high as that of home practices, but one need only review the recalls and FDA Warning Letters of recent years to know that the upstream links in the chain have issues, challenges, and behaviors that need addressed as well.

Thus, while Brian Honigbaum was addressing a different aspect of food safety, his quote (above) is just as applicable to “The Food Safety Battle” that rages up and down the food chain. Food processors and manufacturers need to be part of the solution to improving behaviors both within their four walls as well as upstream and down. The industry has access to a virtually unlimited number of supply chain management solution providers, conferences, research, articles, etc. for upstream management; and just as many for all the aspects of in-plant food safety management.

But how often do we think about, discuss, or find information on downstream food-safety management? How many of us even see it as our responsibility to be part of the solution for food safety after a product has left the plant? How many of us know how to be part of that solution?

It was for such reasons that the Partnership for Food Safety Education was founded, that the Partnership held a Consumer Food Safety Education conference in December 2014, and that we chose to dedicate this issue’s cover story to industry’s role and commission in this food safety battle—with the challenge to assist in a win for consumers, which is a win for industry as well.

 

Changing Behavior

Along with our cover story on consumer food safety education, three of this issue’s columnists focus on behavior change, industry responsibility, management’s role, and why it is important:

  • 53 - From the Advisory Board. Nestle Purina PetCare Director of Retail Food Safety Kim Kemp discusses today’s food industry worker, and why and how management has to change its ways to adapt to these Millennials—rather than the other way around.
  • 54 - Practical QA Solutions. Despite increased regulation, recalls continue unabated. Food Quality Assurance Consultant and Instructor Ole Dosland believes that the answer is not regulation, rather the solution is within the industry.
  • 58 - From the Plant Floor. Cost-cutting should not be an excuse for reduced food safety. Rather, asserts Sam Kane Beef Director of Food Safety Brian Honigbaum, quality assurance and food safety managers need to ramp up their own communication/behavior to be the “squeaky wheel” when potential cost-cutting measures could impact food safety.

 

 

The author is Editor of QA magazine. She can be reached at llupo@gie.net.