Laws, rules and standards about safe animal feed are important and necessary. However, they have one drawback: they don’t necessarily change people’s “hearts & minds”. In fact, complying with rules can sow complacency, making us forget that safe animal feed demands more.
The GMP+ certification scheme comprises a wide range of standards and objectives that assure the safe production of animal feed. Those standards are based on objective and scientifically grounded criteria. As a result, they are also measurable and verifiable. Another crucial element for safe animal feed is not: intrinsic motivation.
Although dedication is not measurable, we have nevertheless included various measures in this sphere in our scheme under the moniker of ‘management commitment’. They include: clear communication about responsibilities, making available sufficient resources, monitoring the integrity of the system and verifying that checks are carried out on time and correctly.
Taken together, this is also referred to as “feed safety culture”, a company culture that is not primarily based on blindly following the rules but on awareness and a sense of responsibility.
A culture like that cannot be captured in rules, but it nevertheless needs to permeate the entire operation. Feed safety must be part of the organisation’s DNA. That is achieved by making it a priority, by providing regular training and information and – just as importantly – by setting a good example as management. A properly-maintained production site and good hygiene will motivate staff to work carefully. Only if dedication occupies a central role will feed safety get the comprehensive, integrated approach it deserves.
If employees obey the rules but do not understand the reasons behind those rules, that opens the door to laziness, sloppiness and mistakes – and, at the extreme, to deliberately ignoring the rules, with all the attendant consequences. In a company without a feed safety culture, mistakes by individuals are less likely to be noticed and brought to their attention. In a company with a healthy feed safety culture, mistakes are not punished but instead are a spur to improvement.
Ignorance and incompetence can result in angry customers, loss of revenue, falling consumer confidence, stricter regulation, higher insurance costs and reputational damage. So even if you pass the GMP+ audit every year with flying colours, there is no harm in critically examining your culture: do our people understand why we do what we do? Where are we dropping the ball? Where is there room for improvement?
Our scheme contains many technical tools to assure feed safety. But it is the people in the workplace who ultimately have to apply the standards. And those people – not the rules – are what make the difference.