What does food safety really mean?

To the Manager of any department in a food business food safety is going to mean something like all the checks and paperwork that have to be done to keep the quality people quiet. To the owner of the business it will probably mean a system we have to stop us from getting into trouble.

To the public, it is probably having food that is safe to eat. To a food safety auditor it is all about having a system and all the right processes and paperwork. To the Quality person in the business it is about following the processes and checks and paperwork to make sure that we pass the audits both internal and external.

See food safety is like the colour pink or red or blue or yellow or purple or green. There are so many different shades or each. Everyone sees them slightly differently depending upon their perspectives, experiences, roles and attitudes.

In one thing we can all agree food safety is fundamentally about having food which is safe for us to eat.

It is the how that is done and how we see it that varies.

As an example, the public truly believe that we, food handlers, must wear gloves whenever and wherever food is being touched. Those of us in the food industry know that gloves are one of the worst vehicles for cross contamination in a food business and that the real requirement is good and regular hand washing. Both of us know that the real issue is not the gloves but avoiding stuff getting in the food - both are food safety, it is just the how that varies.

Knowing that this vital issue of food safety is seen differently by different people is essential for those running food safety training or doing food safety communication to remember at all times.

Not only do different people learn differently, we trainers and communicators must also constantly remember that even the topic we are talking about is seen differently by our various targets.

So the trick is to always put it in terms our targets will understand, after all we are aiming for the same thing - to ensure that the food we are making / eating is safe.

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