After 20 years working in the food safety solutions and compliance world, I have heard every excuse as to why food companies won’t start a food safety program. Here are some of my favorites:
- We don’t have the time
- We don’t have an employee to be our food safety person
- We don’t have the financial resources to start and maintain a food safety program
There are many many more but this one is my all-time favorite:
- Our company has been around for 3 generations and we haven’t gotten anyone sick—yet
Death to Inertia
If your facility, God forbid, has a food safety related outbreak and recall . . . I’d advise not telling the press or your customers any of the excuses above. So why do I still hear the same excuses, even today, when everyone in the industry knows how important food safety is?
In my mind, all these excuses are platitudes to maintain the current paradigm, or Inertia.
Death to the inertia AND realize two things:
- Food Safety is now law, so it is illegal to not have an active food safety program
- Food safety solutions don’t have to be expensive
Food Safety is Now Law
One piece of information/legislation that should snap any food company out of Inertia is FSMA, or Food Safety Modernization Act. At a minimum, every food company that is managed under the FDA has to follow the basic legal guidelines for food safety.
FSMA requires every company to have gone through a training of the new expectations and to be following the guidelines during all daily growing, handling, packing, processing, and distributing of food.
Just abiding by the new FSMA rules is not expensive and will greatly decrease the chance your facility will have a major food safety recall. Please contact us if you need more info on what is expected for FSMA and we can provide you with a checklist.
Food Safety Economics
Food contamination can lead to (large) economic losses related to production and trade in case recalls are needed or in case of food safety incidents. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that both the agro-food industry, including farmers, producers and retailers, and authorities assure that only safe food is placed on the market. – Science Direct
Verification vs. Verifiable Food Safety Program
Okay, so now you have met all your legal food safety expectations and realized not only that it wasn’t too difficult but also with the new food safety solutions in place, your operation is running more cleanly and efficiently. The next step is food safety certification.
Wait, don’t leave yet, here is a tip to save some money. Food safety certification will take your operation to the next level of food safety—BUT you don’t have to pay for the audit and certificate to begin with. If your clients are not asking you for a food safety certificate, they will soon. So here is a tip I learned and taught to my clients over the years:
- Tip: Your facility can be verifiable without being verified
What does that mean?
It means – find the GFSI certification that best fits your food operation and overtime build your program to that standard. When the time arises and your clients ask you for a certified program, you are ready for the audit. Our goal is to help keep food industry costs manageable while promoting safety. Certification can use a successful stair step approach to GFSI Certification by starting with the GFSI Global Markets checklist.
Recap “Death to Inertia”
So to recap, other than being stuck in the constant hamster wheel of inertia, implementing food safety solutions is mandatory. It’s the law. But creating a food safety program doesn’t have to be expensive. Just download the checklist and start checking off the boxes, and over time you will have a fully implemented program.