The Fresh Food Industry has come a long way. Recently, I was reading and listening to an update about Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (LGMA) programs. This organization has singly-handily taken us to new levels of understanding of our biological world and helped us collectively lift the entire leafy green industry in terms of food safety.
So many lessons have been learned! For example: water. There is a good video that helps explain details that are now incorporated into our daily ‘best practices.’ In the past, we were not able to have this kind of oversight and science. Thank you LGMA for moving this forward.
It now seems obvious that we should manage our industry this way. But it took time to reach this point. Take the recent visit and collaboration with officials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Industry and government must work hand in hand at all levels to achieve collaborative success.
But what has been done on the ground for growers, harvesters and packers? What do they do daily to help with food safety? How do they manage the food safety process without slowing down production? If leafy greens and other fresh food have truly become safer, what techniques have proven to be the most useful to achieve success?
I recently read a great book by Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto, that sums this up.
Gawande, A. (2011). The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. Picador.
One reviewer noted that “the volume and complexity of knowledge today has exceeded our ability as individuals to properly deliver it to people—consistently, correctly, safely. We train longer, specialize more, use ever-advancing technologies, and still we fail. Atul Gawande makes a compelling argument that we can do better, using the simplest of methods: the checklist.”
This same reviewer pointed out that a simple surgical checklist from the World Health Organization has been adopted around the world and heralded as “the biggest clinical invention in 30 years.”
Preventing foodborne illness and delivering safe, fresh food to millions of people is no small task. We are all responsible for the tactical measures and behavior changes necessary to achieve this goal. However, not all of us are experts. Frontline workers, crew supervisors and mid-level managers are not necessarily trained in science or biology yet they often have the greatest impact on food safety.
The checklist helps to bridge the gap between the subject matter experts and those that must carry out the day-to-day tasks on a farm, packing shed, processing facility or distribution network.
Deploying the best tools and utilizing the most modern checklists in our day-to-day operations is something we can all start doing today. Not surprisingly, it is something we care deeply about here at Procurant. Our digital checklists are helping thousands of organizations today, and we are proud to be a part of this exciting time for our industry.