Third-party audits are no replacement for skilled staff, food safety culture: Bite Me ’09

As the odometer hit 2,000 miles, Amy asked what it was like to travel when my kids were young. I said when they were 4-months-old like Sorenne, they just slept all the time.

Sorenne didn’t sleep all the time.

And then it occurred to me that when my eldest, the 21-year-old, was 4-months-old, I didn’t have a car. I was a student and didn’t drive anywhere. Those other kids who slept all the time had a sister in the backseat to help take care of them.

About 3,000 miles, I told Amy to slap me upside the head the next time I suggested such a road trip.

Bite Me ’09 – five talks, 3,600 miles in 12 days, some golf and some beach – wrapped up with a fury of talks and mileage, Monday in Florida, Tuesday in Nashville, Wednesday in Springdale, Arkansas, with an encore at Wal-Mart HQ in Bentonville and a lovely drive home through the back roads of Kansas with the prairie on fire (ranchers burn grasslands in Kansas for weed control and to encourage new growth).

My short message in various forms was this:

The third-party food safety audit scheme that processors and retailers insisted upon is no better than a financial Ponzi scheme. The vast number of facilities and suppliers means audits are required, but people have been replaced by paper. Audits, inspections, training and systems are no substitute for developing a strong food safety culture, farm-to-fork, and marketing food safety directly to consumers rather than the local/natural/organic hucksterism is a way to further reinforce the food safety culture.

Thanks for all the great hospitality from the various folks along the way and the engaging conversations.

‘Back home, sit down and patch my bones, and get back truckin on.’