In an online video blog addressing how foodservice establishments and food processors could clamp down on major foodborne disease outbreaks, Powell said they often blamed consumers for not cooking food.
“… I would argue the porn industry is more responsible than the food industry, ‘cos the food industry says, ‘well you have got to cook your pot pies’ or ‘you have to cook your hamburger’ ...” said Powell in a video posted on his blog site http://barfblog.com entitled 'Food safety culture - Alberta style' .
“That would be like the porn industry saying ‘just use a condom’, when they shut down if they get a positive, just like that.”
He analysed lessons learned from outbreaks including a 1985 E.coli O157:H7 scare in London, Ontario and an outbreak of Listeria in cantaloupes in Colorado in 2011 in which 33 people died.
Food safety was something that needed to be policed throughout the supply chain from farm to fork, he said.
Powell argued against over-reliance on third party food safety audits. “They have a role, but I wouldn’t rely on it and I certainly wouldn’t put my brand on it. To improve audits and inspections, more companies should evaluate risk themselves, evaluate practices entirely.”
Sound food safety practices
Ensuring every member of staff in a company was committed to sound food safety practices was the most important way to reduce foodborne disease outbreaks, he said.
“After looking at a lot of audits, a lot of inspections and a lot of outbreaks over the past 20 years, I and my colleagues have come to the conclusion that establishing a food safety culture within an organisation is probably the most effective way to do it.
“If I am employee at one of your plants and I go to the bathroom and I see another employee going number two and walking out, I would say, ‘dude, wash your hands’, because the owner can’t be there 24/7, the inspector can’t be there 24/7 … places like Wal-Mart and Disney have shown it can be done.”
‘Shock and shame’
Different methodologies were effective in drumming correct practise into workers, said Powell. “With hand washing, it’s a mixture of shock and shame – depends on the age …”
Other crucial elements of robust food safety policy included sourcing food from safe sources; embracing evidence-based microbiology and running a transparent supply chain with public disclosure of everything, he said.
Other necessary aspects were mandatory certification and “rapid, reliable, relevant and repeatable information”.