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    Building a Food Safety Culture, Part 2 – 4 Basic Attributes

    Julia Stewart:

    Hello, and welcome back to PMA’s audio blog, “Ask Dr. Bob.” I’m Julia Stewart. PMA’s Chief Science Officer Dr. Bob Whitaker and I have been talking about why and how to integrate a food safety culture into your corporate culture. Today, he is with me to discuss the four basic attributes of a culture of food safety. In his previous posts, Dr. Bob has discussed the importance of integrating food safety into the culture of the business, and looking at the ROI of food safety.


    Bob, now that we understand the importance of why we need to look at food safety from an integrated perspective, just how do we go about creating a food safety culture?


    Bob Whitaker:

    Julia, there are four basic attributes of a food safety culture. First off, you have to take responsibility for the safety of your products and it has to start at the top of the organization chart and run down through the entire system. Second, you have to access the technical knowledge required to build a fully integrated food safety program…and here is a hint, a lot of that knowledge already exists in your company. Third, you have to communicate clearly and often regarding food safety, both internally and externally.  Last, you can never, ever be satisfied – food safety as an area of continuous improvement. 


    As an industry, we need to begin to mature our discussion on food safety, and embrace each and every one of these four attributes. Too often we get bogged down in tactical issues like auditing and testing, when true improvement in food safety competence will only come when food safety becomes integrated into our individual business cultures.  It has to become part of our corporate fabric.  These four key attributes to building a food safety culture: taking responsibility, searching out and incorporating knowledge, communicating internally and externally about food safety, and developing a mindset of continual improvement have to become part of our everyday thought process as we operate our businesses. These are all critical to a truly successful approach to food safety.


    Viewing corporate investment in food safety in the more traditional business approach of return on investment helps provide context to the costs of food safety, and puts perspective on these costs versus others we have historically dealt with in business. When the true ROI is clear, then devoting resources to each of these four areas may be more palatable. In the end, consumers expect our products to be safe – not to mention regulators and legislators.  For the future of our own businesses and the industry as a whole, we have to spare no effort to be sure we are doing all we can to meet that expectation.


    In my upcoming posts, I’ll be discussing each of these attributes in detail, but this gives you the overall idea.



    Thank you, Bob. This really sets the stage for better understanding how to build a food safety culture in our companies and in the industry. We look forward to hearing more about each of these attributes.


    Thanks very much to our listeners, please join us again next time!

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