Picture this scenario: Company A experiences an outbreak of something in its food which causes masses of its products to be recalled, resulting in huge losses for the company’s profits, production and reputation.
Something like a salmonella outbreak or something equally severe can take years, if not decades, for a company to come back from.
Once the public has lost trust in a company, it is very difficult to make people forget the past, stop associating your brand with a negative situation, and come back better than ever.
So, in the food industry, where the health and safety of the products are probably more important than any other, why is there such a “hush hush” mentality to safety?
Why is nobody being proactive?
Shaughan Syme doesn’t understand why food manufacturers are not being proactive in protecting their products and reputations.
His company produces and distributes the BAXX machine, which eliminates mould spores and other airborne single cell organisms that pose risks to food safety and health.
“I have been very surprised that the food industry has not been as quick as I expected in adopting this technology, seeing as it needs to focus so much on safety,” he told Food Magazine.
“We are not suggesting this is a replacement for normal hygiene and cleaning, it is a supplement.
“With all these companies having health issues and recalls and going out of business because of it, considering this is such a low cost solution I thought they would be installed everywhere straight away.
“Companies don’t have a particular problem we can solve and we aren’t looking for payback.”
Syme explains that the technology the machine uses is safe and effective and does not pose the risks to health that many other machines which aim to solve similar issues do.
“The BAXX is new technology which produces hydroxyls, which are produced in nature, as nature’s own disinfectant,” he explained.
“The concept is to target the ozone but without the dangers.
“The ozone is a molecule with an extra hydrogen atom and is a danger to human life.
“There are some other options but they’re only effective in quantities that kill human and plant life and everything else you could think of.
“If you use these types, you have to have locks on all the doors, flood the room with ozone and two hours later, before it’s used again, you have to flood the room with oxygen, which defeats the entire purpose.
“It hasn’t been widely adopted in Australia because of the dangers, it was very big in some parts of the US.
“Hydroxyls are found in nature, they were discovered by Louis Pater (?) 200 years ago, when he tried to figure out why people who lives in sunny, arm climates were healthier than those in colder ones.
“It’s a water molecule (H2O) which is missing a hydrogen so it becomes OH- and that’s an unbalanced position, it wants to turn back to a molecule so the atoms are attracted to single cell organisms and attach to the wall and turn back into harmless water, but the cell has ruptured and dies.
“Mould spores, bacteria and fungus spores are all single cell organisms.
“It’s very effective because it is mechanical rather than chemical, so the organisms can’t become immune to it.”
Safety attitude "back to front"
A spokesperson from WorkCover NSW told Food Magazine while it is not definite that the industry has a “hush hush” mentality to safety, the rates of incidents does not seem to be declining.
“It’s not something I have sensed, but I guess generally speaking often there is a reluctance from an organisation to want to engage with any regulators, whether its WorkCover or another food industry body.
“But we strongly encourage companies to be proactive.
“We would much prefer they be proactive and talk to us so we can come out there and give our input.
“I know it is difficult and we are always working strongly to change the perspective of what we do and we are very keen to engage with industry.
“I think it’s a bit back to front.
“If an organisation could cause someone to be seriously injured or worse, killed, it is only in their best interest to talk to us and avoid any injuries and the costs and damage to reputation that would cause.
“It’s all about gaining competitive advantage these days between companies so people need to embrace safety and be proactive about it.”
Companies hesitant to suggest problems
Syme agrees with the sentiment that the industry has its safety priorities back to front.
“We have sold quite a number of these machines and probably 90 per cent have been to companies that have problems and are looking for a solution,” he told Food Magazine.”
“Nine out of 10 times the BAXX solves the issue, but when we ask the company if we can use them as a reference, they’ve been reluctant to have their name attached to it simply because they don’t want other companies or the public to know they had problems in the first place.
“I think to have it mandated would be an advantage seeing as this is not a fad, it is a proven thing and it is perfectly safe for humans.
“I honestly thought companies would be calling us daily and climbing over one another to get to us because it is so simple and cost effective.
‘The 800s unit is $AU3850 plus GST plus $26 delivery, so it is not a financial burden at all, we’re not talking a $15 000-20 000 system.
“You buy it for that price and then there is no further costs, no maintenance or services, just and the electricity costs- which is 1200 watts, about the same as two lightbulbs!
“It doesn’t need to be oiled or cleaned, it might just need a dust every once in a while if it is in a dusty area. and the electricity costs- which is 1200 watts, about the same as two lightbulbs!
“And it’s completely stainless steel…and stainless steel doesn’t rust.
Syme believes the attitude should be reversed, so companies are focusing on being proactive rather than reactive to safety.
“I think that’s where a lot of companies are missing the point, they don’t have to admit they have a problem, you could easily turn it around as a bonus to let your customers know you fitting these things voluntarily because are being proactive about it and that you are concerned with safety.
“That’s exactly what we’re doing in doctor’s surgeries too, we will have a plaque displayed in waiting room informing people the air is being treated by BAXX technology for your safety, to stop the spread of infections.
“People don’t have to take our word for it; they can research hydroxyls themselves, and find out all the information on the internet.”