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How does an organization create culture? How do you play a role in igniting the drive for a Food Safety Culture?

We make a wide range of enjoyable foods that delight consumers. Those of us responsible anywhere in the farm-to-fork chain are satisfying a desire for consumers with our brands. Those of us who manage food operations at scale moreover have the obligation to produce safe food ubiquitously.

That passion of our many associates is what makes food safety a top priority for PepsiCo. From blended learning platforms to communications campaigns, we are thrilled at the opportunities to socialize food safety behavior off the page and into the hearts and minds of people. In our Food Safety Center of Excellence (FSCoE), we’ve modernized food safety learning as fun and propagated a video game series throughout the company: Guardians of Food Safety, which covers many foundational aspects of GMPs in a gamified, interactive way that has been very successful! Players are captivated as they boost their scores on the leaderboard.

Would a similar initiative be successful in your own organization? You are equipped to decide, as you are integral to your organization’s culture. Whether you implement policies or operate factory equipment, you can influence and shape attitudes and behaviors about food safety. Evaluate the patterned ways in which people around you act and cooperate. After all, culture is what you do today and every day. Can you discover opportunities to socialize the behavior in new ways that uphold requirements and improve measures of performance for food safety?

Each organization will have its unique journey in driving its Food Safety Culture. The following principles are intended to provoke your thinking and ultimately elicit actions to establish a dynamic Food Safety Culture.

Culture is evident. When you read a company’s mission statement or its public communications, you might find food safety embedded in the context of the messages if not explicitly stated. Is there a call to protect consumer health? More than in words, culture may be evident in visual displays, even in just entering a plant. A recent example we witnessed was how factory frontline employees wore promotional shirts that read, “Food Safety starts with me.” What a compelling emphasis on the value of each individual’s contribution and ownership in the food safety journey.

Culture is rooted in people. People are connected virtually more than ever before. Like a good publicity campaign, promoting a Food Safety Culture leverages multiple approaches to increase the likelihood the message will be impressed upon the audience. Historically, a food safety organization may have relied on too few communication methods. Nowadays, there are many options to communicate goals, expectations, and achievements. Some options are digital, but they do not necessarily need to be so. Even a simple, personal interaction can be the best way to connect. Leaders who do a walk-around, have an open-door policy, or sponsor “open talks” enforce a thriving culture.

Culture is dynamic. Organizational agility sustains success. Just as we would seek continuous improvement in our programs and operations, we must also promote a growth mindset in people. This happens when people accept the challenge of trying something new, invest in driving an initiative, and fine-tune it based on constructive feedback. It may take a few trials to drive the right level of engagement. For example, when we started the FSCoE website platform, traffic was slow; but after experimenting with a few approaches and bringing strong executive commitment to the effort, all metrics significantly increased.

Part of the Food Safety learning pathway in our organization is a course called Driving Food Safety Culture & Leadership. In it, we ask participants to journal their reflections. They are encouraged to consider what specific behavior changes they can hold themselves accountable for. Consider your next steps carefully and purposefully… or as our Guardians of Food Safety game would implore: players, start your engines.


This post was written and contributed by:
Rebecca Ferrer
Global Food Safety Manager

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