Interpersonal Skills in the Practice of Food Safety Inspections: A Study of Compliance Assistance
Conducting food safety inspections requires interpersonal skills and technical expertise. This requirement is particularly important for agencies that adopt a compliance assistance approach by encouraging inspectors to assist industry in finding solutions to violations. This article describes a study of inspections that were conducted by inspectors from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Food and Dairy Division at small-scale processing facilities. Interactions between inspectors and small processors were explored through a qualitative, ethnographic approach using interviews and field observations. Inspectors emphasized the importance of interpersonal skills such as communication, patience, empathy, respect, and consideration in conducting inspections. This article examines how these skills were applied, how inspectors felt they improved compliance, the experiences through which inspectors attained these skills, and the training for which they expressed a need. These results provide new insights into the core competencies required in conducting inspections, and they provide the groundwork for further research.
Speaker / Author:
Jenifer Buckley, PhD