The Human Element in Food Safety: How Training and Culture Shape the Future of Food Manufacturing


In the fast-paced world of food manufacturing, it's easy to forget the most important role in ensuring food safety (people!!). The human element, which includes skilled workers, a culture of excellence, and ongoing training, is the linchpin of a robust food safety system. This article will explore how the human factor and organizational culture will shape the future of food manufacturing and ensure the safety of the products we consume.

What Is The Human Factor in Food Safety?

One of the best parts of touring facilities is watching skilled manufacturing workers do their art. Whether it’s slicing meat products, sorting fruits and vegetables, or the perfect sprinkle on baked goods, we forget that food manufacturing is an art! These artists are the guardians of food safety.

1. Quality Assurance Teams: QA professionals are on the front lines, monitoring and ensuring that every product meets the highest quality and safety standards. Their expertise in identifying potential issues and deviations is crucial in maintaining safety.

2. Production Workers: From handling ingredients to operating machinery, the actions of production line workers have a direct impact on product safety. Proper training and adherence to safety protocols are vital.

3. Maintenance Crew: Maintenance teams play a pivotal role in ensuring equipment is in optimal condition. Regular inspections, maintenance, and calibration are critical to preventing contamination.

Training for Excellence

Effective training is the cornerstone of food safety. It equips employees with the knowledge and skills necessary to maintain the highest quality and safety standards. The future of food manufacturing hinges on the following training principles:

1. Whole-Person Training: Recently, a COO told me that they have no platform to train employees in life skills, not just work skills. Filing taxes, buying a home, cashing a check, or opening a bank account are parts of life that we forget are learned skills. When employees can grow in life skills and as individuals, they’re more likely to succeed in their daily tasks. At Allera, we say that healthy humans make a healthy company.

2. Continuous Learning: Training programs should be ongoing and adapt to new technologies and industry standards. This keeps the workforce updated and well-prepared for emerging challenges.

3. Hands-On Training: Practical, hands-on training is essential to ensure that employees can apply what they've learned to real-world situations.

4. Cross-Functional Training: Cross-training employees in various roles fosters a deeper understanding of the entire process, promoting a culture of collaboration and shared responsibility.

5. Technology Integration: Incorporating digital tools and e-learning modules can enhance training efficiency and effectiveness, allowing employees to access training materials at their convenience.

Organizational Culture: The Bedrock of Food Safety

The culture of an organization has a profound influence on food safety. A culture that prioritizes safety fosters an environment where employees are empowered to speak up, report concerns, and take ownership of food safety. Key elements of a food safety-focused culture include:

1. Accountability: Everyone within the organization, from top executives to entry-level workers, should feel a sense of accountability for food safety. There’s a story that James Leprino, from Leprino Foods, tested his employees by trying to walk on the production floor without a hairnet and other required gear. One courageous QA leader told him he must wash his hands and wear a hairnet like everybody else because of company policy, and James gave him a bonus for enforcing that nobody is above food safety, even the CEO.

2. Open Communication: An environment where employees can freely communicate concerns or suggestions without fear is essential. Transparency is a hallmark of a safety-first culture.

3. Safety as a Core Value: Embedding food safety as a core value in the organization's mission statement and daily operations reinforces its importance.


In the future of food manufacturing, the human element will remain central to ensuring food safety. The collaboration of skilled workers, ongoing training, and a culture that values and prioritizes safety and whole-person development forms the bedrock of a robust food safety system. While technology and automation are invaluable tools, they are most effective when combined with a well-trained, safety-conscious workforce. As the industry evolves, the human element will continue to shape the future of food manufacturing and guarantee the safety and quality of the products we consume.