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So we are now supposed to think like criminals

Most of us in the food in industry try to be honest and comply with all of the various standards such as BRC7 and retailer codes of practice.

In recent years following horsegate we are advised that we need to start thinking like criminals.

In my opinion that is a bit of a stretch. Many men struggle to understand or think like a woman and vice versa, as evidenced by the wide range of books on the subject of understanding the opposite gender. Parents struggle to understand their kids and how they think, even though all of us were kids once. I could go on.

So how are all of us law abiding citizens in the food supply chain to think like a criminal.

Thinking like a criminal

As a food safety professional you are already grappling with the following challenges.

  • A lack of food safety culture in many food businesses means that you and the rest of the technical team are often on your own being concerned about food safety
  • A large concentration of food factory operatives where English is a second language makes the job of training and communicating with operatives challenging, and that’s before you even consider cultural differences.
  • Factory operatives being paid at or close to the minimum wage with low levels of engagement, working in a food factory is hard work and there are easier places to go and earn the minimum wage, what does this say about the staff who choose to come and earn their minimum wage in your food factory?
  • General short termism across many businesses, this can often be more pronounced in large quoted businesses who have to make quarterly, six monthly and annual earnings updates to the markets. Senior management in these businesses can find it very difficult to think long term or implement long term decisions which could have a negative impact on short term profitability.
  • Senior management preoccupied with cost reduction has been a problem facing technical departments for as long as I have been in the food industry (over 22 years). This results in technical budgets being salami sliced year in year out as food safety teams are often seen as an overhead, to be reduced. This is crazy when you consider that food safety and brand protection should be at the top of the agenda for senior management in all food businesses.

The examples above paint a challenging, but realistic picture of the environment that technical managers implementing vulnerability assessments & TACCP are now supposed to start thinking like criminals.

Now as we move into 2016 some of you will also have to comply with the modern slavery act.

It would be easier to become a criminal.

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