If you asked, “Who is responsible for Food Safety at a company?”, then a common answer you could get is “Everyone!”. In a way I understand this answer as everyone has a responsibility to play their part in food safety.
If you asked the question slightly differently, “Who is responsible for managing Food Safety at a company?” a common answer you could get would be “the Quality/Food Safety Manager!”. Having been a Quality Manager myself, I understand that in many cases the Quality/Food Safety Manager is responsible for managing the food safety initiatives.
If you asked “Who is accountable for Food Safety at a company?” then a common answer you could get is “The Plant Manager/Senior Management”. Yes, theoretically speaking the most senior person/s at a facility could be ultimately accountable.
However, if you asked “Who is responsible for leading Food Safety at a company?” then you may be surprised to get a mixed bag of answers ranging from the CEO, Plant Manager, Quality Manager to the HACCP Team Leader.
While food safety managers and leaders both have a common goal to mobilise resources to achieve food safety, the activities of managing and leading are very different.
Food Safety Managers generally focus on directing people to get food safety tasks done. Food Safety Leaders on the other hand focus on developing and influencing people to improve food safety by taking it to the next level. Not all managers are leaders and not all individuals responsible or accountable for food safety are necessarily food safety leaders.
Who then are the true food safety leaders in your company? While they could be your Quality, Technical, Production or Plant Managers, Food Safety Leaders are not always bound by title or formal responsibility. They are the knowledgeable and empowered members of your company that on a daily basis set the example of promoting a positive food safety culture. They are the individuals that are influencing others to take food safety to the next level.
It is refreshing to see that many food companies are now acknowledging the importance of strong food safety leadership as an integral part of achieving food safety excellence. Individuals with food safety leadership skills are being targeted during the hiring process and significant resources are being put into developing those individuals that demonstrate food safety leadership skills.
Take a moment to consider “Who are your Food Safety Leaders?”