“Instead of one audit a year, we have empowered all employees. It’s like having 400 auditors in the field every day,” Farley said.
When workers complete the EFI training, they receive higher wages. Training includes everything from reminding workers not to wear jewelry that could fall into strawberry clamshells as they are packed to how to identify and respond to animal incursions in fields.
O’Driscoll said a big part of the training is to convince workers that corporate America wants them to help enhance food safety. The willingness of Costco and Bon Appétit to pay a premium for the Limited Edition strawberries from Andrew & Williamson is helping get the message across.
“You have to energize a shift in the mindset of the workforce toward food safety,” O’Driscoll said.
“They need to really believe that the boss wants them to look for problems and mention them. Many workers are stuck in the mindset of piece work and they think they shouldn’t stop and point out if an animal has been in the field.”
The Limited Edition strawberries from Andrew & Williamson that Costco is selling carry special certification stickers notifying consumers that the fruit was harvested by workers specifically trained in food safety protocols.
Costco’s participation was critical, said Oxfam America board member Dan Glickman, who was agriculture secretary during the Clinton administration.