Food Safety: Who is in Control? Would you believe nobody?

With the recent outbreak of salmonella poisoning caused by egg contamination, it raises the debate yet again, “Who’s in Control of our food safety?” I was appalled, but not surprised, to read the recent USA Today article outlining the numerous violations Austin businessman “Jack" DeCoster has racked up over the past 16 years.  Dating back as far as 1994 and as recent as June 2010, he has been cited and fined for environmental, health, and safety violations that include such things as hog manure runoff into waterways, exposure to harmful bacteria, unguarded machinery, employee discrimination and immigration violations and abuse. For a repeat offender with such a rap sheet, how does the FDA and the USDA let this guy remain in business?  The chain of accountability needs to extend to the governing bodies that are in place to keep the American people safe, which includes Congress.  

Fines alone obviously don’t improve compliance.  Attempts by the government to change behavior in this and many other situations involving safety and financial misdoings are woefully inadequate.  The shame is that knowledge and technology are available to radically improve them. You can expect more from me on this topic as it proves to be a reoccurring issue among business and the government agencies charged in overseeing them.  Until then, I thought it helpful to link you to a couple of past articles on the topic:

Food Safety, Product Safety, and Public Protection: The Critical Role of Behavior by Cloyd Hyten  – A look at the issues that arise even when company leadership is diligent about employee and public safety.

NUTS! When Leadership Abandons Ethics in the Name of Profit by Cindy Ashworth and Darnell Lattal – An examination of the peanut contamination from 2009 and the role behavior plays in the domino effect of this crisis and has the public questioning our confidence in corporations to insure food safety.

Posted by Cloyd Hyten, Ph.D.

Cloyd is a senior consultant and thought leader in the field of performance improvement. Dedicating more than 20 years to this work, Cloyd has also served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and served as President of the OBM Network. Outside of work, Cloyd enjoys history, food and football.