Human behaviour is the key to safe feed

Feed safety is a team effort, and it takes conscious involvement from managers and leaders to build the right culture. Probably the most important feed safety hazard is human behaviour. Your company’s supply chain is unique and constantly changing - and in the face of complexity we all sometimes hope that a good process will be enough. Maybe if we just read the manual, follow the check-list, and tick the boxes… then everything will be fine. But even the most robust processes can’t be expected to handle every potential risk to animal and human health. So how should companies be thinking about feed safety?

Picture Roland van der Post

A feed safety culture

Some leaders look at feed safety purely as a risk-management issue - a paper exercise for the quality team to handle that will meet the necessary requirements. However, feed safety is not something leaders should take for granted, and a tick-box approach leaves the possibility open for something to slip through the cracks.

This is especially true when the pressure is on. If supplies are scarce, the temptation is to focus on securing enough materials more than securing the right materials. This is natural human behaviour - and we can all understand how this exposes our businesses and community to contamination, or even fraud.

Instead, we find the most helpful way for leaders to think about feed safety is not only as a quality process to follow, but as a mindset and culture to build; where the whole team is valued and rewarded for thinking proactively, and keeping feed safe day to day.

Active not passive behaviours

Building a culture is often about what you as a manager or leader put in the spotlight. Quality and safety should be in a company’s DNA, where everyone understands the outcomes to achieve, what their contribution is, and are supported to do it.

This approach emphasises an important truth; that feed safety is less about risk management, and more about business continuity. Even a minor contamination can shut down entire storage units and supply chains; damaging credibility, cutting into cash reserves - and worse; harming people and animals. Investing in feed safety cultures - in human behaviour - is an investment in business continuity.

Building new habits

So how would you assess the behaviours of your team on feed safety? Do they take a passive approach (they leave it to someone else to follow the rules), or an active one (everyone thinks about and contributes to achieving the outcomes). Does the leadership team understand and discuss these desired outcomes, and do they reward the team for transparently and proactively highlighting potential issues? Is feed safety regularly discussed with your suppliers and customers?

If you, as a manager, are looking to build a feed safety culture, here are three things I can recommend:

  1. Take the ‘Feed Safety Culture’ micro-learning modules available from GMP+ Academy.
  2. Ensure safety is the core of your business plan and regularly discussed by your management board, which will be easier if your quality manager is an equal member of the board.
  3. Let us help! Invite GMP+ International to talk with your leadership and community about how you can build a feed safety culture.

While human behaviour may be the biggest feed safety hazard, it is also the solution. With a proactive mindset, our teams can feel empowered and rewarded for all their efforts to keep our feed safe.