The World Health Organization reports that one in 10 people will get sick every year because of contaminated food — of those people, 420,000 of them will die as a result of the illness. Such attention-demanding statistics shed light on just how important food safety is in food-service or food-related industries. However, a lot of business owners struggle with one question: Where does the responsibility of food safety land in the workforce?
Food Safety Should Be a Multilevel, Collaborative Effort
In truth, food safety is often designated to one employee or manager who is deemed as the person in charge of safe food practices throughout a place of business. Yet food safety is not an idea that should be solely left up to that individual. There are multiple people in the workforce who should be working together to achieve the ultimate food-safety outcome — this may come as a surprise to business owners.
Food Safety Managers
The food safety manager is the primary overseer of food safety plans in the workplace. This person often:
- Implements the primary rules that other employees should follow
- Creates training plans for new employees coming into the workforce
- Carefully keeps tabs on new food safety protocols and information from governing agencies
- Communicates new standards in food safety to the workforce
- Performs assessments of other employees’ food-handling practices
Human Resources Managers
Human resources managers and staff members are oftentimes the least involved with food safety, but human resources employees should work hand in hand with managers and team members to ensure all requirements are met to encourage food safety as a company value. For example, the human resources team can implement food safety topics into training materials for new hires or make sure all employees are adequately participating in ongoing training.
Hourly employees may be at the bottom of the chain of command, but this is where the rubber meets the road in food safety. All of the training and rules handed down from the upper-level team members must be followed by hourly employees or the ball is dropped here and consumers can be at risk. Therefore, food safety must be just as important to hourly team members as it is to the rest of management.
Food Safety Should Be Part of Company Culture
Not only is food safety the responsibility of multiple employees and levels of management, but it should also be deeply ingrained as part of company culture. This idea is so important in modern times that a complete study was done by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) over an 18-month period.
The intention of the study was to garner reliable data to prove to companies that building a company culture with food safety as one of the founding components can mean overall more success with safe food practices.
How does a company make food safety a principle of its company culture?
- Make food safety a top priority during business setup
- Make food safety just as important as profit and sales
- Make food safety important to every team member — from top to bottom
When food safety is treated as an afterthought of a food business operation, it leaves more room for mistakes that put consumers at risk. Instead, food safety should be an integral part of what a company or corporation is as a whole. Through recognizing food safety as a collaborative effort of the entire workforce, food businesses are much less likely to have costly problems that could compromise public health and safety.