Dan Sutton: The Impact of Stories from Real People

The LGMA recently released both a new food safety training program for workers throughout the California leafy greens community and a new video project designed to communicate how important proper training can be to producing safe food.

The video was produced as a joint effort between the LGMA and STOP Foodborne Illness as a training tool. It uses the stories of people impacted by foodborne illness as a motivation for workers to always practice proper food safety practices and is currently being used as part of the LGMA Tech training workshops.

One of the leafy green industry members in the video is Dan Sutton, General Manager of the Pismo-Oceano Vegetable Growers Exchange. Dan does a great job of conveying the tremendous impact that meeting people whose lives have been forever changed by a foodborne illness has made on his daily efforts to produce the safest food possible.

We asked Dan to provide a brief account of his experiences, his words are below.

We encourage all LGMA members to take advantage of the new LGMA workshops as a tool to effectively train workers not just about how to practice proper food safety on the farm, but why this is so important.

It was an impactful experience when I had the opportunity to host a group from STOP Foodborne Illness at our operation in June 2013. The experience provided me and others in my operation a very personal insight to individuals whose lives have been impacted by a foodborne illness. The stories they shared demonstrated bravery and left us with a permanent reminder of the importance of food safety on the farm.

After the tour concluded, I felt that there was more that I could do. I immediately incorporated into my training sessions the stories that were shared from the tour. I wanted our employees and others to understand this is “Why” we do what we do. I wanted the stories to be a constant reminder, as the stories are to me on a daily basis.

When I was asked to participate in a collective project between STOP Foodborne Illness and the LGMA to produce a video for food safety training – I was more than willing. I was so hopeful that this project would capture the emotion, importance, and inspiration that I felt when STOP visited with us in 2013.

Last month I participated in a training that was hosted by LGMA Tech. I believe this was the first time the video was incorporated into the training program. The video was shown at the beginning moments of the training. As I sat and watched the video I realized that the feelings and inspiration I felt when I first met the Lauren and Rylee, featured in the video, were back. I was now curious as to how the other food safety professionals in the room felt. As the video concluded, there was silence in the room. I began to look at the other attendees and quickly realized that this was a powerful training tool.

I am grateful for the collaborative effort of STOP, Lauren, Rylee, Rylee’s mother Kathleen, and the LGMA for this tool that will be used throughout the farming community to explain, help understand, and put meaning to what we do on the farm.


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