A recent study out of the University of Nebraska revealed that 40% of dairy product contaminants can be traced back to the farm and 40% are traceable to the truck. We already knew that farms are a contaminate because of the very nature of how milk is produced, and that tanker trucks have always been a source of contention.
The surprise of the study was the reveal that plants are the contaminant source of the remaining 20%. The question becomes, how can a plant be a source of contamination?
Simple. It is walked in at the beginning of every shift.
I was recently in a cheese plant that took efforts to eliminate contaminants to the next level. They invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in blocking the infiltration of microorganisms from the outside – to take bio-security to a new level. Technology includes latex foot wraps, secondary foot protection grippers, and state of the art foot washing machines that you are directed to walk through. Full face hair nets look like balaclavas and if you have a beard, you get to wear a secondary beard net over it. Equipment includes timed hand washers, lint rollers and sanitized lab coats. All this, just to get into the building. So, if you work in the food processing area, you almost look like a hazmat worker or astronaut.
All these methods for keeping the outside ‘bugs’ out are amazing, but the most striking thing happened when I walked through a foot bath. I kind of hopped through it so I wouldn’t get my pants wet, and a worker who was passing by stopped me and politely asked me to walk through it again. It was at that moment that I realized that I was witnessing the gold standard in quality.
A true quality culture is one where every employee walks through doorway foot baths, not just because they are told to, but because they understand how bio-security can directly affect consumer health. A true quality culture is one where the employees wash their hands, because they want to be stewards of human health. This is the quality culture and bio-security to which we should all aspire. This is what it takes to effectively protect the human health of all consumers and we all need to achieve to this level. Once this is considered the norm, we can then work our way back to trucks and farms to create the logistic chain where all involved think of the consumers’ health first and foremost.