Food safety culture has jumped the shark: UK develops tool for inspectors

Food safety culture is often mentioned on the speaker circuit but what does it all mean? We gave it a shot, so has Griffiths and Yiannis.

The U.K. Food Standards Agency has come out with two reports prepared dick.fingers.farleyby a consultant that offers a thorough review of the concept but doesn’t move us any closer to implementation.

And I don’t know why the reports were targeted at inspectors, to help them assess the culture of a food business. Shouldn’t food producers, the ones who profit, be taking the lead on developing case studies, data collection, and innovative techniques to embed food safety culture within their organizations? And brag about it?

Maybe I’m just a bit thick.

“The study aimed to develop a tool which can be used by enforcement officers for those aspects of food safety culture, attitudes and behaviors that
JumpTheShark(1)help officers assess ‘softer’ aspects of risk presented by individual food business operators (FBOs).”

Uh-oh. Writing with dick fingers (‘softer’) usually means uncertainty vagueness, or just lousy writing.

“The first stage of work identified and reviewed existing safety culture assessment tools. A total of 169 questionnaires and tools were identified. A large number of these were variations of safety climate questionnaires and had been used in safety culture research. Fifteen toolkits/questionnaires were shortlisted for potential inclusion in the detailed review. The review of the current tools noted that:

• none of the tools had been developed specifically to assess food safety culture;

• the typologies used for some tools, and elements of safety culture covered, overlap with those noted in food safety culture research;

• most tools have not been developed specifically for micro or small firms;

dick.fingers.stewart• many of the existing safety culture tools have some form of validation; and,

•a large majority of the tools are diagnostic.

The summary also notes a number of tools are intended for completion as a survey of staff. They measure the safety climate rather than specifically diagnose safety culture and mapped advice. This is not considered applicable by inspectors during ‘routine’ inspections of micro or small food businesses.

There’s those dick fingers again.

These experts can’t write: how fresh produce growers make decisions about food safety?

If people who write in ALL CAPS are compensating by yelling, people who stress points by writing in italics or excessive use of quotations are compensating for boredom. To paraphrase Strunk and White, let the reader decide what is truly exclamatory and what needs to be emphasized; words, not formatting, can do this.

When people are talking, it’s called air quotes; Jon Stewart famously called them dick fingers in 2008 (video here if you’re in Canada or the U.S.). I call it bad writing.

I also have issues with people who write, “Clearly …” and “we …”

Clear to whom? Who’s we?

Strunk and White agree.

If the reader can get past the writing, a new paper in Food Control supposedly presents a new model for how fresh produce growers make decisions about food safety. I reduce the paper to: don’t care how it’s done, don’t make people barf if you provide food, and talk with growers since they’re growing the food.

I can’t figure out how the “new model” (below) is going to make fewer people barf; guess I’m not into models.

And it’s Powell, not Powel.

Abstract below:

An expert guide to understanding grower decisions related to fresh fruit and vegetable contamination prevention and control
Food Control
Jason Parker, Robyn S. Wilson, Jeffrey LeJeune, Louie Rivers III, Douglas Doohan
This research intends to refocus the on-farm fresh produce food safety paradigm away from an emphasis on knowledge deficit models and ready-made or tightly-coupled, reductionist solutions toward a loosely-coupled systems approach. The dynamic environment of produce farming and multi-dimensional objectives of produce growers create manifold pathways to address farm specific food safety concerns. We propose a systems approach to facilitate increased decision making of growers using farm-specific criteria to improve their efforts. Currently, social and psychological dimensions of fresh produce food safety are overlooked in program development with preference given to bio-physical knowledge and technological solutions. In this paper, we describe a comprehensive model that was developed through a formal expert elicitation and literature review for the purpose of enhancing education and policy development and improving the microbiological safety of fresh and fresh cut produce. This model illuminates the intrinsic interrelationships among farm scale, marketing practices, and the need for appropriate food safety interventions. We further discuss how this loosely-coupled systems perspective can both aid our understanding of grower-decision-making and provide a basis for developing equitable solutions to on-farm food safety issues as part of a social-psychological approach to addressing these issues.
? US farm scale diversity should be part of food safety policy recommendations. ? Experts need to be aware of their biases of produce grower decision-making. ? A grower-centered approach will enhance new policy, standards, and metrics. ? Farmer input is needed to adapt practices to farms of all scales. ? Avoid one-size-fits-all practices developed for large-scale produce production.