A California slaughterhouse that was shut down last week amid wide-ranging allegations of animal abuse reopened for business Monday, with federal officials saying that employees will receive new training on the handling of electric cattle prods, stun guns and other devices.
But does training actually work? Or is the culture of the workplace more important to continuous reinforcement and desired results (like not abusing animals).
The company also said more frequent third-party audits of its operations, would "establish a new industry standard for the handling of animals."
Third-party audits can sorta suck.
Culture encompasses the shared values, mores, customary practices, inherited traditions, and prevailing habits of communities.
Frank Yiannas, the vice-president of food safety at Wal-Mart wrote in his aptly named 2009 book, Food Safety Culture: Creating a Behavior-based Food Safety Management System, that an organization’s food safety systems need to be an integral part of its culture, and that culture is patterned ways of thought and behaviors that characterize a social group which can be learned through socialization processes and persist through time.
Yiannas also writes:
• The goal of the food safety professional should be to create a food safety
culture – not a food safety program.
• An organization’s culture will influence how individuals within the group
think about food safety, their attitudes toward food safety, their willingness
to openly discuss concerns and share differing opinions, and, in general, the
emphasis that they place on food safety.
• When it comes to creating, strengthening, or sustaining a food safety culture
within an organization, there is one group of individuals who really own it –
they’re the leaders.
• Having a strong food safety culture is a choice. The leaders of an organization
should proactively choose to have a strong food safety culture because
it’s the right thing to do, as opposed to reacting to a significant issue or
• Creating or strengthening a food safety culture will require the intentional
commitment and hard work by leaders at all levels of the organization,
starting at the top.
• Although no two great food safety cultures will be identical, they are likely to
have many similar attributes.
• Identifying food safety best practices can be useful, but one major drawback
to creating such a list is that it doesn’t really demonstrate how these activities
are linked together or interrelated. It misses the big picture – the system.
• To create a food safety culture, you need to have a system.