A commitment to food safety must come down from the top with every level believing that leadership supports them.

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A successful food safety culture is dependent on employee behavior. Because of this overlap, Siemens’ food safety team partners with Cargill’s employee safety team to influence behaviors in a positive manner. “Understanding more about what motivates them and about what blind spots they might have and getting supervisors to work with them,” facilitates continuous improvement, she says.

Another critical piece of the food safety culture puzzle involves precise data collection, Siemens says, “and how do we use that data more proactively.” The key is collecting the right data that can be used to help the company’s teams working on the floors of its processing plants make the best decisions and allow them to assess if the processes need to be realigned. “Where can we best mitigate risk, and help our employees be successful?”

From a global standpoint, Siemens says conveying the company’s commitment to food safety and ensuring it permeates throughout the company, from the top-down, is crucial. “We have to have that visibility to make sure that they know that leadership supports them and that they are empowered in the food safety space.”

Cargill’s Food Safety Management System includes food safety verification and validation at its operations worldwide. This is one universal manner of maintaining control that is not always possible when it comes to other aspects of food safety culture.

Scaling up its standard for food safety culture and maintaining it at a high and consistent level at all of its facilities is an ongoing point of emphasis for Siemens and the supervisors and managers of the company’s diverse operations. Achieving success is assessed on a plant-by-plant basis and each facility and operation is treated like a standalone business. Various factors influence the success of each facility’s food safety culture. Variances include the history of each facility and whether they are Cargill legacy plants or one of the company’s acquired properties, where some cultures are already established. “While we have common procedures and common requirements, we do have to look at how those play out at all of those facilities and we’re very cognizant of that,” Siemens says.

Being a food safety professional at Cargill, Siemens says the company’s support allows her team to be empowered to make a difference each day. “We don’t have to answer questions about the ‘why,’” Siemens says. “Everybody knows the direction, so we continue to work on the ‘what’ and the ‘how.’”