While I was in the checkout line, I noticed someone had decided against purchasing a cup of yogurt and left it there. It got me thinking about food safety and all the steps that had to occur correctly for that yogurt initially to be untainted, and now, again for it to remain so.

I know when I buy my yogurt, I don’t give it a second thought. I count on it to be safe, which means that I implicitly trust the minimum wage worker to know enough not to restock the abandoned yogurt from the checkout line, the retailer to promptly stock and maintain refrigeration, trucker to ensure the delivery was made at a controlled temperature, the packing facility to follow cleanliness and purity protocols, and the farmer to feed the cows grass and water free from toxins.

I think of all the painstaking steps that work to keep our food supply safe – from the growing, processing, transporting and selling – and yet we often come close to subverting that whole system by our own food-safety shortcuts. We cook meat without thermometers, leave the potato salad on the buffet line too long and keep unrefrigerated yogurt in the hot car as we continue our round of errands.

Food safety is often determined in final moments before consumption – just as in organizations where the consumer’s experience with you is often determined in the last moment – negating all the preparations and precautions that preceded it. Nonetheless, remain diligent in providing that background of care and honor your role within the system – both as a producer and as a consumer.

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