Thursday, January 28, 2016

Food safety requires the pessimism of intelligence and the optimism of will

This is based off a quote in the Independent from Donald Rumsfeld, the former US Defense Secretary,    “As my friend Andre de Staercke once put it to me, “What one needs in life are the pessimism of intelligence and the optimism of will.”. I thought this statement was even more applicable to food safety and the duties of the food industry professional with responsibilities for food safety.
Food safety requires the pessimism of intelligence and the optimism of will.
The challenges for food safety occur all the time - whether it is RTE product being run in a facility that was built long before there was consideration for organisms like Listeria, or the company's marketing guru pushing a more natural / minimally processed product to be sold as fresh refrigerated, or a restaurant entrepreneur wishing to produce a vacuum packaged, fully cooked meal.  For the person tasked with ensuring the safety of products, they must recognize the risks and apply sound judgment based upon scientific facts or historical reports of past outbreaks or recalls.  Then they must either be willing to apply necessary controls to prevent those risks or squash poorly designed, high risk projects before excessive investments are made.  The force of will comes from knowing that in the end, that customers will not harmed, and with that, the company's future is more secure.

Depending upon the company's culture, the food safety professional has often been looked at as the naysayer or worrywart.  But with numerous examples of food safety issues where food safety issues have cost company's lost millions, or in some cases, resulted in executives being sentenced to jail time, the food safety professional's job is becoming more valued.

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