Collaboration collaborationists: Trust us is terrible soundbite for food safety

Last night, I chatted in my terrible French with our host and his far better English, with Amy there to mediate the difficult parts, about his parents’ emotional shit-fest during Nazi occupation in World War II. short version: his father had been chosen to be killed by Germans in retaliation for the killing of a German soldier, and while awaiting death, American troops rolled into town, post-Normandy, and his father was spared.

The son showed me a photograph of the German boss being transported out of town on the front of an American Jeep, hands on his head.

That’s one of the reasons this lovely French family loves Amy: she’s American.

Collaboration, which has been touted for decades as essential in the academic enterprise and yesterday ad nausea in the food safety world, also has a different meaning: Collaborationists.

Selling out.

I’ve covered this before, but food safety collaboration is over-rated, especially if it’s driven by a top-down organization.

Just because a lot of salaries from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) signed a memorandum of understanding on jointly developing food safety capacity building projects, means nothing (upper right, propaganda image).

Will fewer people barf?

Yet the collaborationists falling over themselves to follow is at once both nauseating and vomit-inducing.

Philippe Scholtes, Managing Director at UNIDO, said, “The World Health Organization estimates that up to 600 million people fall ill every year after eating contaminated food. Our collaboration with GFSI will further strengthen and promote multiple benefits of safe food for social inclusiveness, sustainability and industrial development.” 

Will fewer people barf?

Mike Robach, Chair of the GFSI Board of Directors, added, “We are very enthusiastic about the potential to have a bigger impact in these key regions, thanks to this collaboration with UNIDO. Multi-sector collaboration is the way forward in achieving food safety across borders and barriers. Our joint efforts within this partnership will take us further and faster towards our vision of safe food for consumers, everywhere.”

collaboration.german.trustWill fewer people barf (lower left, propaganda image)?

Individuals create and innovate, and bring others to the table.

Individuals who are steady and focused need someone to take them out of their comfort zone, as much as the erratic need steadying support.

That is the challenge of any collaboration, bringing those elements together, and being better than the individual.

Otherwise, it’s just a collaborationist following a paycheck.