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Sing for Food Safety

Something struck me on Saturday watching the rugby. It’s just not the same without the fans, is it? Although there is “white noise” in the stadium and on the sound feed on TV, there is something missing. It’s the songs.

Somehow the renditions of the anthems, while excellent, are just not enough to hold that spirit of pride and support for our team. We love those songs sung often very off-key and possibly even after one too many. The ones that unite us across the race lines and even local competition lines. The songs remind us of our common goal – we want our national team to crush the other side., Well, win of course.

Do you know that songs could be a tool you can use for food safety too? It’s a great way to build a team. So, this is not just my idea. In Frank Yiannas’ book Food safety=Behavior, he references research conducted by Logeswaran and Bhattacharya (2009) and Brodsky and Slur (2013). Music was found to influence emotions and in the latter study, driving behaviour.

Having been a part of an “experiment” at Michigan State University where groups of random people were grouped together to prepare and present a food safety song, I was astounded at the unifying effect this task had on the team. Until that point, the interaction had been awkward and stilted but after the singing competition, the group was much more engaging and open. Of course, our team won, but only that to the singing and songwriting prowess of Dewey Longuski!

I have since used this tool in the Food safety Culture “Train-the-trainer” courses we have conducted. The results never fail to amaze me. After the initial “you gotta be kidding me” reaction from most members of the team, regardless of position and authority, the outcome is incredible. The level of ingenuity and enthusiasm shows just how powerful a song can be to unite to a common goal.

We remember our school anthems, many years after graduating, we sing the national anthem with pride. Why couldn’t we sing a food safety song as a prelude to important food safety meetings, town hall talks, and audit opening meetings?

Give it a try, be passionate about the idea, be serious about the process. You will always have the people who ridicule the idea but stick with it. Make it a competition. Record the results and use the winners as part of your induction programme. And don’t try and control the process as the quality manager. Let people decide that they want to sing about NOT what you think they should sing about. You will be amazed too. Trust me.

Why not share your songs on our Food safety culture Facebook page.