What does Netflix’s Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food Mean for Food Safety Leaders?

What does Netflix’s Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food Mean for Food Safety Leaders?

Why is a food safety documentary taking Netflix by storm? As of this writing, Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food is #4 in Netflix’s top 10 movies. After hearing the tragic stories from the victims of food outbreaks, three themes emerged from the documentary that translate into valuable lessons for anyone working in the food industry.

Lesson #1: Without Food Safety, Humans Can Die

The food industry is the most important industry in the world because it affects the lives of everybody every day. Poisoned displayed the stories of victims of food outbreaks that led to innocent kids ending up in the hospital or dying. It’s a constant battle to remember that quality assurance and food safety leaders advocate for noble work that keeps Americans healthy and prevents unnecessary deaths and sicknesses. 

For leaders in food companies, it’s imperative to create a culture that connects the food to a real person. By humanizing production, employees can better understand the significance of their role in ensuring food safety, fostering a sense of responsibility and accountability.

Lesson #2: Complexity of Regulation

Navigating the landscape of food safety regulations is no small feat. Poisoned shed light on the complex and sometimes convoluted regulatory environment that governs the food industry. The documentary highlighted the challenges faced by companies in adhering to various regulations, especially when dealing with a vast supply chain that spans multiple regions and jurisdictions.

Food safety leaders should recognize the importance of staying up-to-date with evolving regulations and invest in robust compliance strategies specific to their facilities.

Lesson #3: Integrity - The Safety Net of Food Safety

What happens when regulation inevitably falls short? The integrity of a food facility and its employees is the safety net to keep food safe when regulation falls short (even when no one is watching!)

In the case of Peanut Corporation of America, multiple parties were knowingly shipping contaminated food, and it was the integrity of a whistleblower that eventually brought their actions to light. This underscores the significance of fostering a culture of integrity within organizations, encouraging employees to speak up if they suspect any wrongdoing or unsafe practices.

Food safety leaders should prioritize ethics and transparency, encouraging open communication and the reporting of potential hazards. By valuing integrity, companies can build a resilient foundation that safeguards against lapses in regulation and ensures the health and well-being of consumers.

Bonus Lesson: Innovation As a Path Forward

Innovation as a solution to weaknesses in our food system was rarely mentioned in the documentary, but Frank Yiannas cast a strong vision for the future of food, “We plan to work together to create an even safer, more digital, transparent, and sustainable food system that’s going to be good for consumers. It’ll be good for producers, and it will be good for the planet.”

Frank is correct to be optimistic about the future of food because of the exciting innovation in the space. Advances in technology, such as blockchain, IoT devices, and AI, offer new avenues for enhancing food traceability, quality assurance, and risk management. By embracing innovation, food safety leaders can proactively address challenges, minimize risks, and continuously improve processes to ensure the safety and integrity of the food supply chain.

At Allera, our goal is to make food safe for everyone, and we achieve that through innovation. Currently, we help food companies go digital with their QA/Operations paperwork to bring traceability, accountability, and transparency to food safety data and leverage AI to increase efficiency. Longer-term, we’re focused on being the operating system of food from supplier to customer. 

Our commitment to advancing technology and fostering a culture of integrity empowers us to contribute to a safer and more secure food industry, one that upholds the well-being of consumers, producers, and the planet. As we learn from documentaries like Poisoned, we're reminded of the urgency and importance of our mission, propelling us forward in our pursuit of a safer food future.