Familiarity Breeds Complacency

The old saying, “familiarity breeds contempt,” may be a little harsh, but there is some wisdom here for the food industry. We may come to work and look at our processes every day but are we really seeing them? How many times have we said, “We’ve always done it this way?” Are you inadvertently adopting an attitude of complacency that is creating chinks in your food safety plan? Over time this habit can grow to a point where problems occur, resulting in lost product, downtime, dented brand image and reputation, and unnecessary expense.

One tool that can help break this cycle of familiarity is to expose it to the unfamiliar – bring in a new set of eyes. An impartial observer can provide an honest assessment of what you’re doing well, as well as areas where there may be problems. They may also be able to provide insight on how to address those problems. There is nothing wrong in asking for this type of help.

Before I joined Birko, I worked in the craft beer industry. I always appreciated having other brewers visit and tour the facilities since it helped me spot things I was missing and allowed me to nip potential problems in the bud.

The Birko Shield service takes this concept to a new level.  A team of Birko food safety specialists will visit your facility and map your process, current food safety practices and your current interventions (if any). Next, the team will prepare a food safety blueprint of your current processes and interventions and present it side by side with Birko’s best practices. This is an optimized set of chemical food safety practices and interventions. Where customers have provided us with an electronic blueprint of their production facility we will present the information as a series of color-coded overlays that highlight areas such as production environment protection, interventions, etc.

These visual representations of food safety practice are a great way for your team to see the big picture of their food safety processes and frequently fuel discussions on ways to improve. They may also highlight areas of weakness, eliminate redundant interventions or help you relocate interventions for maximum efficacy.

Elis Owens, Ph.D., Director, Technical Services, Birko, can be reached at [email protected], 303-289-1090.