New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint: Leveraging employees and technology to enhance your food safety culture

New era, Food & beverage

Over the last several years, food safety culture has become a significant topic for the industry, both domestically and abroad. Within the New Era of Smarter Food Safety, food safety culture is a foundational pillar required to move companies from their current state of reaction to a place where they are actively bending the curve on food safety outbreaks. Regardless of organizational size, companies are trying to catch the “lightning in the bottle” to take their company from basic to an industry leading brand, especially when it comes to food safety. However, there is not a one-size-fits-all prescriptive model to develop a culture of food safety, and most companies will need to make a radical cultural shift to achieve it.

When starting to consider how to improve food safety, think about the overall culture of your organization, where it is currently, and where you would like it to be. Start determining how strong your existing culture of food safety is by asking yourself a few questions:

  • Are employees incentivized and empowered to let you know when an error occurs, or do they fear punitive action?
  • Can you describe a situation when a line-level employee identified a potential food safety risk, or better yet, a time when they did not let you know an incident had occurred?
  • Are your Quality Assurance (QA) staff active participants in solving company challenges, or are they left out of the discussion?
  • Have you implemented technology to automate food safety and quality assurance processes?
  • Are you relying on information from post-food safety issues, or are you able to be preventative with real-time alerts and notifications?

Your response to these questions will provide the beginning of your journey to strengthening your organization’s culture of food safety.

Empower all employees

Employees who are encouraged to make informed decisions that positively affect safety and do the “right thing” are the foundation of a food safety culture. By educating and empowering every employee to make the right determination—every time—organizations can improve customer satisfaction, reduce product recalls, and protect the brand. Besides, when employees feel that they can make decisions that positively impact the company, they are generally happier and more productive in their jobs. An empowered workforce also builds organizational resiliency which increases a company’s long-term viability and agility. It takes a considerable amount of time, effort, and resolve to change organizational culture, but with buy-in at every level, any company can achieve it.

Encourage Quality Assurance teams

It is no secret that QA teams have not always been able to take the lead in implementing necessary food safety programs, processes, and technological solutions. The reasons for this are many and can include that the QA department too often is viewed as the “no” department, QA staff are seen as a cost center, and they are unable to develop a strong business case for their needs. Finding solutions that not only enhance their programs but also help solve other company challenges and objectives provide the opportunity for QA teams to become indispensable members of the organization. By letting Food Safety and Quality Assurance (FSQA) professionals lead the way in this matter, they can help organizations overcome previously unsolvable food safety challenges by implementing innovative tools and processes to get the job done. Inviting FSQA staff to take a more active role shows employees, investors, customers, and other stakeholders that the organization is genuinely committed to creating a culture that puts safety first. Like other investments, food safety culture pays dividends over time.

Implement technology

A question you may be asking is, what role will technology play in building a culture of food safety? In many respects, technology can be a catalyst for change within a company; however, it is like any other tool at your disposal and is only as valuable as what you do with it. Reactive information does not provide you with the decision-making tools needed to be successful and proactive. Real-time cold chain temperature monitoring offers teams useful insights to help actively identify risks within their distribution system and take a Preventative Controls approach to mitigating risks.

But what else can be done with this data from technology solutions? Real-time visibility has the potential to optimize freight lanes when used effectively by showing which ones are best for your products. Using technology that gives actionable insights can improve corporate sustainability efforts and save money by keeping food out of landfills, thus reducing the need for replacement products. Replacing lost loads has a two-fold price, including the goods themselves, as well as shipping costs. Reduced lost loads after implementing a real-time solution can drastically minimize transportation and insurance costs, too. These are all strategies that companies can employ right now to transform their business and build a successful future.

Has this article challenged the way you were thinking about the New Era of Smarter Food Safety or provided insights you hadn’t previously considered? If so, continue to watch for articles by bookmarking our New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint resource page.

Controlant is dedicated to lessening supply chain disruptions while providing visibility during this unprecedented time. Contact us to learn more.