COLORADO SPRINGS — Scientific advances in food safety won’t fully pay off unless the food industry strengthens its “food safety culture,” Frank Yiannas, vice president, food safety, Wal-Mart Stores, said in a presentation here Monday.
“Culture is just as important as the science,” he said at a session during the Grocery Manufacturers Association Executive Conference. “The soft stuff is the real hard stuff where you can make a difference as food firms.”
He said best practices include setting high expectations, educating and training, communicating throughout an organization, establishing goals and measurement systems, and reinforcing positive and negative consequences.
“We [industry leaders] own the food safety culture,” he told an audience of top executives of supplier and retail companies. “If your organization has a less than acceptable culture, it’s because you’re OK with that.”
He said Wal-Mart is a big supporter of Global Food Safety Initiative benchmark standards, “and we encourage you to join us in adopting these.”
Yiannas contended that the Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points system “is a step in the right direction, but it’s not the final destination” for the industry.
“My job [at Wal-Mart] is not to create a bigger food safety program, but to strengthen the culture of food safety in that organization. And that’s certainly your role as leaders and food manufacturers.”
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