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It has been said, what we know and what we believe is of little consequences. It is what we do that is important. When it comes to food safety, this point is certainly true.
The main reason I decided to write these books is simple. It’s because I wish I would have known 20 years ago (when I started my career in food safety) what I know now. The concepts I share in these books are not generally taught in food science curriculums. They are not something you generally hear about in food safety seminars or at food safety conferences. To my knowledge, there is not much documented in the food safety literature about these topics.
The concepts you’ll read about in these books are simple. Many are age-old principles about human behavior. Others are more recent concepts developed through the study of human behavior, group dynamics, and organizational culture. Many of the ideas may be considered simple. They are so simple that they are powerful. In fact, one of the most common compliments I receive is that the ideas presented in these books are simple, but they are rarely assembled together in this manner and they are rarely used in the context of improved food safety performance.
In the field of food safety today, there is much documented about specific microbes, time/temperature processes, post-process contamination, and HACCP – things often called the hard sciences. There is not much published or discussed related to human behavior and culture – often referred to as the “soft stuff.”
However, if you look at foodborne disease trends over the past few decades, it’s clear to me that the soft stuff is still the hard stuff. We won’t make dramatic improvements in reducing the global burden of foodborne disease, especially in certain parts of the food system and world, until we get much better at influencing and changing human behavior (the soft stuff).
Despite the fact that thousands of employees have been trained in food safety around the world, millions have been spent globally on food safety research, and countless inspections and tests have been performed at home and abroad, food safety remains a significant public health challenge. Why is that? The answer to this question reminds me of a quote by Elliot M. Estes, who said, “If something has been done a particular way for 15 or 20 years, it’s a pretty good sign, in these changing times, that it is being done the wrong way.” To improve food safety, we have to realize that it’s more than just food science; it’s the behavioral sciences too.
Think about it. If you’re trying to improve the food safety performance of an organization, industry, or region of the world, what you’re really trying to do is change peoples’ behaviors. Simply put, food safety equals behavior. This is the fundamental premise that both of these books are based upon.
While the ability to influence human behavior is well documented in the behavioral and social science, significant contributions to the scientific literature in the field of food safety are noticeably absent. Therefore, these publications are intended to help advance the science by being the first significant collection of proven organizational culture and behavioral science techniques, and be the first to show how these techniques can be applied to enhance employee compliance with desired food safety behaviors and make food safety the social norm in any organization.
These books are devoted to providing you with new ideas and concepts that have not been thoroughly reviewed, researched, and discussed in the field of food safety. It is my wish that by simply reading these books, you pick up a few ideas, tips, or approaches that can help you further improve future food safety performance within your organization or area of responsibility. By sharing and learning from each other as professionals, we can make a difference, advance food safety worldwide, and improve the quality of life for consumers all over the world.
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, I would love to hear from you. Thanks for reading.
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Books by Frank Yiannas