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An African wildlife series – the giraffe

This week we take a look at the giraffe.

Don’t you just love their gracefulness? For such a large animal, it moves with elegance. I love the colour variations in their coats and long eyelashes. I never get tired of photographing them.

From a food safety perspective however, what struck me was their perspective on a situation. Let’s face it – they can see the bush from a completely different angle. They CAN see the wood from the trees while other animals are stuck seeing the forest.

We came across a journey of giraffes near a watering hole. We were so excited to see them as thus far on our trip, we had not seen a single giraffe, something we had thought was a little strange.

We were happily snapping them when we noticed they were intently staring into the distance. They could see the lionesses we had completely missed due to their effective camouflage. They were looking at the problem from a completely different angle. It is this perspective that gives them protection. Their long necks and great eyesight make it tricky for their predators to creep up on them.

There are two lessons to learn from them:

1. Sometimes we need to have a different perspective on food safety problems

You can probably tell me about at least 10 staff or team issues you have been struggling with, over the last year. You can also probably tell me the solutions you have tried – the ones that haven’t worked. It’s time for a fresh perspective. A novel approach to problem-solving perhaps. You changing your viewpoint about the individual and choosing the battle. Maybe you are wrong and need to just listen. Why not try brainstorming the right way – listing ideas before judging them? You don’t have to be the one who comes up with the solution, you can learn from others. Empower your team to take ownership of the problem and let them find the solution. Use duct tape if necessary if that’s the only way you can keep your mouth shut.

2. Food safety needs effective horizon scanning

A positive food safety culture is a learning culture. We are always looking to improve and learn from others. The “It will never happen to us” mentality is arrogant and risky. Take time to share food safety incidents with your team and management. Analyse them and use them for identifying potential risks that you can evaluate in your own systems and processes. Practice mock recalls intentionally. The same with emergency situations. Schedule these and don’t compromise. Do a formal debrief and don’t lie to yourselves if the truth is inconvenient.

Giraffes do get preyed on – the young and the sick. It takes a lot to bring it down. Having their unique perspective is a key defense mechanism. Let’s use this to make our systems and food safety teams stronger.

Fun fact about Giraffes’ defenses against predators

Healthy adults are less vulnerable to being killed by predators due to four important aspects:

1. They have an intimidating size.

2. They give deadly kicks, which more predators fear.

3. They are fast runners, so they are not easy to catch.

4. They have an excellent vision that allows them to react in time.

If a giraffe ends up kicking a predator, it can be severely injured or killed so not so many predators dare to attack a giraffe unless they find a young or they are desperate for a meal, to the extent of risking their lives on it.

Source: https://www.giraffeworlds.com/giraffe-predators/

Photograph by Linda Jackson