A bakery successfully establish a detailed and well-documented food safety program, but it can quickly stumble if it fails to ensure that program reaches every employee on the floor. 

“Complacency is the enemy when it comes to food safety,” said Molly Schmidt, senior vice president of food safety, quality and regulatory, Flowers Foods, Thomasville, Ga. “Being aware at all times is critical.”

One of the most common errors bakeries make is neglecting to go back and train employees who were absent on training days, said Gina Reo, president of Quality Assurance. Although few in number, those employees who slip through the cracks and aren’t up to date on their training can cause plenty of problems for a bakery. 

“I’ve seen it come up in audits; I’ve seen mishaps and recall situations because people missed training in critical areas,” she said. “You want to make sure you’re tracking all your employees for the proper training that you’re required to have for your facility.”

Lance Roberie, founder, Food Safety and Quality Services, said the ball often gets dropped in the implementation of a food safety program due to a lack of consistent enforcement and accountability. 

“One common issue is the failure to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) and neglecting to prioritize food safety practices,” he said. “This can occur due to inadequate training, complacency or a lack of food safety understanding.”

He noted internal audits should be conducted regularly to ensure employees are adhering to SOPs. 

Ms. Schmidt added that errors are more likely when food safety training is seen as a “one and done” activity. 

“Continuous refresher training helps make the correct behaviors become a habit,” she said. 

At the end of the day, a food safety program is only as strong as the commitment of those leading the program and how well they engage those on the front line on the production room floor. 

“Maintaining the synergy, actively documenting and incentivizing the behaviors that drive a proactive food safety culture is key to making everyone feel as an integral piece of driving the highest integrity standards possible,” said Steve Robert, global vice president of sales, marketing and product innovation, AIB International.

The importance of food safety will only grow for bakers as regulations surrounding traceability, sanitation, allergens and more come their way. 

“It’s not going to get any easier; the requirements are going to get heftier going forward, and if you don’t have a food safety culture in place that’s sustainable, you’re going be left by the wayside,” Ms. Reo said.

This article is an excerpt from the July 2023 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Food Safety, click here.