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Lately I have been engaged in some fairly practical discussions about prioritizing work in the sanitation and food safety area. There is always so much to do and each item seems to be top priority. So how do you determine and implement what are the most important tasks to drive value in food safety? This represents a difficult, but important, task.

This topic seemed practical to me as we should know where and how we deliver value at work. However, as I investigated the dictionary definition of “value,” it quickly became philosophical and clouded the picture for me. For the purpose of this discussion on value, I was not as interested in definitions of intrinsic vs. extrinsic or absolute vs. relative value.

To better describe value in the context of food safety, I thought of a different way to communicate the meaning. We can reverse-engineer the value subject by asking ourselves, “What would happen if I underperformed or missed a fundamental duty, resulting in a failure in a basic food safety prerequisite program that put food safety in question? Would I be reprimanded? Maybe even be fired?” If the answer is yes, then I would be consider that a value-added task.

From a different angle, we also should ask ourselves, “What could I do, or not do, that would cause a manufactured product to gain market share?” For this situation, let’s look outside food processing and take a peek at the fast-moving world of electronics.

Poor quality or lack of innovation will destroy a company. The smartphone competition, for example, demonstrates value vs. failure. Consumers and companies have shifted away from the former trendsetter Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry to using Apple or Android products. Just a few years ago, President Obama was seen using a BlackBerry, and it was viewed as cool. What a difference a few years make.

It’s not that RIM is a bad company or lacks talented people, but it did not innovate fast enough to deliver the same level of value as its competitors. Even though it was once the leader in corporate phone devices, consumers started shifting from BlackBerries to Android phones or Apple’s iPhone.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs was single-minded and passionate about delivering value, and he did. He went from a college student who collected returnable pop containers for cash to the 112th richest person in the world. Even more important to him than money — he was paid $1 per year as Apple’s CEO — was the value he delivered to his customers.

The ultimate value to your customers, consumers and company is to deliver safe food that is made in a sanitary environment and meets all company and regulatory laws. Safe food contributes to your brand, your product reputation and, ultimately, your company’s continuity. You must prioritize, plan and execute many food safety and sanitation prerequisite programs for this achievement. Each must be addressed to ensure the food safety value is built into products you deliver to your customers.

We may never make it to the richest person list, but we must meet our commitment as food safety and sanitation professionals and meet expectations of our consumers. To achieve this, our work and priorities must deliver food safety value. Have a value-added day.

This story is sponsored by POWER Engineers, which has one of the most comprehensive teams of engineers and specialists serving the baking and snack industry. As an extension of its clients' engineering teams, the company provides program management, integrated solutions and full facility design for the baking and snack industry. Learn more at www.powereng.com/food.