On May 18, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Stop Foodborne Illness joined forces to present a webinar, “Building a Coalition of Food Safety Culture Champions Across Your Organization.” The webinar featured representatives from FDA and non-governmental organizations, as well as industry food safety advocates.

FDA officials Donald Prater and Conrad Choiniere spoke first about food safety culture as one of the four core pillars of FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety. They discussed steps FDA is taking to promote food safety culture within the agency and throughout the food system, such as engaging with industry, academia, and food safety regulatory counterparts; conducting a literature review and compiling a resource library; conducting trainings for FDA staff; and exploring new methods to educate consumers. 

Lone Jepersen, President and CEO of Cultivate SA, spoke next about what a “food safety champion” is, and why it should matter in the context of food safety culture. She mentioned that the process of building a coalition of food safety champions can begin by making associates within an organization aware of the personal impact their work has on food safety. 

Dr. Jepersen then invited industry representatives from McKee Foods Corporation and Blue Apron to discuss their organizations’ successful approaches to instilling a culture of food safety internally. Methods of promoting food safety culture discussed by the industry representatives included: training and education, utilizing behavioral science techniques, setting objectives for organization-wide food safety plans, building cross-functional teams, creating core food safety models, establishing expectations, driving accountability, and leveraging technology to monitor trends and make data-driven decisions.

The webinar ended with a question-and-answer session. Topics broached during the Q&A included: the appropriate size and personnel make-up of internal food safety coalitions, federal and non-governmental food safety culture resources for medium-sized and small companies, and industry methods for incentivizing and recognizing positive food safety behaviors. The recording for the webinar will be made available on Stop Foodborne Illness’ YouTube channel, alongside the recordings of the prior two webinars in the joint FDA and Stop Foodborne Illness series.