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OSI Leadership Drives High Food Safety Standards Customers Trust

September 15, 2020

(This photo was taken before the COVID-19 pandemic)

Every day, OSI facilities around the world produce products that leading food companies put their names on, trusting that they meet the most rigorous safety and quality standards. That trust, as OSI President Dave McDonald puts it, is OSI's "badge of honor."

"We don’t have a big brand," McDonald said. "We have our reputation, and if reputation is your brand, you protect it with everything you’ve got."

As OSI engages with more customers with increasingly complex requirements, the company has been focused on upholding and aligning its high standards. That means ensuring that OSI produces high-quality, safe food at each of its farms and processing plants around the world, every day and every shift.

How does OSI ensure that these high standards are met, across regions, with so many moving parts? According to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sheldon Lavin, "it all boils down to culture."

This month, OSI facilities around the world are celebrating Food Safety Weeks, events dedicated to strengthening food safety culture and giving members of the OSI family a chance to reflect on the roles they play in maintaining the high standards OSI customers have come to trust. Outside of the annual event, however, Food Safety remains a year round, non-negotiable top priority, driven by company leadership and OSI's Global Food Safety and Quality Council.


While OSI leadership sets expectations for high food safety and quality, the Council, bound by its charter, is the engine that drives the company's approach to these priorities and has been laser focused over the last few years on aligning the company's goals and processes.

"We are a multinational company with multiple plants in multiple zones, but committed to aligning on common food safety policies," said Ken Petersen, OSI’s Senior Vice President of Quality Assurance, Food Safety and Regulatory Affairs, who leads the Council and reports to OSI President and COO Dave McDonald. "Our goal is to ensure that managing directors across the company know what the policies are, communicate them, use them for training and monitor execution. I call this a systems approach."

Kevin Scott, OSI's Senior Executive Vice President in North America, explained that his membership on the Council enables him to keep operations in his region ahead of emerging trends. "Being on the Global Food Safety Council gives us, as senior leaders, visibility into food safety around the globe and also allows us to share best practices and share best ideas relative to improving food safety whether it be at the manufacturing facility or suppliers," he said.

"Whether new techniques or new technology becomes available, we can quickly move to expand that rapidly across our global network of manufacturing locations."

The Council imbeds best practices into its Global Food Safety Policies, which often exceed customer and regulatory requirements and have made our facilities, in many areas of the world, stand out as beacons of excellence.

Since 2018, every OSI plant around the world has also reported the same food safety metrics into a global database each month that management uses to benchmark facilities. These key performance indicators track global metrics such as audit findings with the goals of preventing food safety issues from arising, and identifying areas for potential improvement.

The results of these key performance indicators are discussed on a monthly call the Council has with OSI leadership and zone managing directors. Petersen describes it as a "decision call — not just an update call."


Beyond its governance and oversight role, the Global Food Safety Council also keeps track of emerging risks, trends, technology and best practices that then inform the company's food safety strategies that ultimately uphold OSI's good name — and, critically, the names of our customers, too.

The Council also sets the tone and approach to Food Safety, which then flows to every level of the organization. Kavien Martin, Regional VP of North America Operations explained that as a regional leader, he works hard to convey the importance of food safety to his team by setting clear expectations and ensuring each and every employee — from a supervisor checking paperwork at the end of a shift, to an hourly team member preparing a batch of food — knows that he or she is empowered to report problems and tap resources to correct issues.

Food safety, he said, is ultimately about producing products employees themselves would be happy to buy and feed their families. "We're all consumers," he said. "As a consumer, I always want my products to be right... I take that same mindset into the workplace." He reminds his team that as people responsible for the production of food, they should "get it right," according to the standards they would expect as consumers, every time.

Across the company, leaders communicate the same message, for the sake of consumers and the leading brands who entrust us with the privilege of producing their food.

"We don't take lightly the responsibility companies hand to us when they say, 'please make our product; we're going to put our name on it," McDonald said. "We’re going to produce a wholesome product that’s safe."

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