The Most Powerful Word in the English Language
Frank Yiannas is Walmart’s Vice President of Food Safety and an author. His books focus on food safety culture. In his second book, Food Safety = Behavior, he includes 30 techniques to enhance employee compliance. In Chapter 25 he shares what he believes is the most powerful word in the English language to enhance food safety: “because.” He focuses on that particular word because it requires us to explain the “why” or the reason behind a request for an employee to adopt a new practice or desired behavior.
The Key to Changing Behavior
According to Yiannas, in his experience, food safety professionals are very good at explaining the “what” or “how” but they may be unaware of just how much the “why” matters when it comes to changing employee behaviors.
The LGMA is on board with the importance of knowing why it’s so important for everyone in a leafy greens operation to understand their role in preventing foodborne illness. Our work with the organization STOP Foodborne Illness has made us keenly aware of what can happen if something goes terribly wrong on the farm.
The LGMA even has a video called “The Why Behind Food Safety” which is shown in all of our LGMA Tech training sessions. We do this so that participants understand that real people can become terribly ill if we are careless or complacent with the required LGMA food safety practices on leafy greens farms.
Our friends at STOP Foodborne Illness are also fans of Frank Yiannas because they know his work at Walmart has greatly enhanced the culture of food safety among its employees. STOP recently partnered with Yiannas in a special webinar titled “Food Safety Culture: We Know Why, Let’s Talk About How.”
In addition to Yiannas, Mike Taylor, former Director of Foods for the FDA was a featured speaker in this webinar. Taylor specifically called out the LGMA for its work with STOP pointing to the training video as an example of the way food companies can work differently.
“It’s remembering the ‘why’ that I think will lead the way in which we continue to drive improvement of food safety and meet the expectations of consumers, and create a culture that really does understand food safety as a deeply personal issue, not just for consumers but for the people who produce the food.”
– Mike Taylor
We wholeheartedly concur with both Mr. Taylor’s and Mr. Yiannas’s thoughts on this subject because we have seen the reaction from the leafy greens community when we show them “why” following food safety practices is so important. The impact is lasting.
Any time people can learn more about how to empower employees throughout the supply chain to adopt a food safety culture, the LGMA is all for it. Something like that doesn’t just happen by itself, it takes strong leadership and commitment to make it so. Frank Yiannas’s work is very important and we are so pleased it is being shared with a wide audience through his book and STOP’s webinar.