Trust but Verify
This adage is commonly applied by those who have been burned by going through life with hopeful (perhaps naive)
optimism that people will do the right thing. In a business
environment—especially food businesses—
however, such advice would be more
appropriate as a mandate, especially after
hearing what can transpire when a company’s
leadership is not paying attention.
Some examples recently described to me:
• Training employees in their native language:
Do you actually know what they are being
told? And have you watched them perform food safety-related
tasks after such training?
• Utilizing one of myriad food delivery services for your direct-to-consumer product (like pizza, traditionally): Do you know
what the driver is doing en route to the customer?
• Cleaning and sanitizing the processing line: Are you sure that
these steps are occurring in the correct order and with the
• Educating foodservice workers in correct food handling: Have
you observed proper handwashing?
• Transporting refrigerated or frozen product for retail sale: Do
you know what the temperature of the truck has been during
the entire trip?
Some friends of mine worked at a local Italian restaurant
during college; one was a fellow biology major. He found a
#10 can of tomato sauce that was rounded at both ends. He
and his coworkers proceeded to use it as a bowling ball in the
back of the house, even though he was quite aware that it was
probably contaminated with an anaerobic organism (maybe even
Clostridium botulinum). Thankfully, it was never opened or used.
Does your foodservice establishment employ college students?
Maybe they’re smarter now, but be aware! (And check the back of
the house, please.)
I’m sure many of you have stories that center on what you
thought people were doing in their jobs compared with what
you may have found out later was actually happening. The
lesson from these stories is, trust but verify. Stated another way:
Evaluate and take corrective action as needed. Educate, engage,
and empower your employees.
It’s the right thing to do.
Barbara VanRenterghem, Ph.D.
CEO, The Target Group Inc. Don Meeker
Publisher Stacy Atchison
Singin’ in the Rain Bobby Meeker
Editorial Director Barbara VanRenterghem, Ph.D.
Director of Sales Adam Haas
Art Director/Production Craig Van Wechel
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Barbara VanRenterghem, Ph.D. • 508.210.3149
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Adam Haas • 321.804.4319
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