Encouraging the right behaviours and actions within a food organization has become known as a culture of food safety. While the concept isn’t new, the path to a culture of food safety hasn’t always been clear. What many organizations overlook as they work toward meeting the food safety culture related requirements in standards is that the key aspects that impact culture (values, leadership, motivation) play an important part in encouraging and delivering on consumer expectations.
Why is food safety culture important today?
According to the WHO (World Health Organization) around 600 million (almost one tenth of the world’s population) fall ill after eating contaminated food, with this causing 420,000 deaths every year. The common factor in most food safety incidents is people. If we can reduce human error, complacency and attitudes towards food safety, fostering a positive and mature food safety culture then we can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our food and beverage production. A mature food safety culture can contribute to reducing product recalls, withdrawals and food safety incidents- ultimately resulting in reducing business costs and saving lives.
Is food safety culture an assessment requirement?
Food safety culture is now a standard compliance requirement for companies hoping to achieve certification to a GFSI benchmarked standard, such as BRCGS, FSSC 2200, SQF, Global GAP or IFS.
GFSI added food safety culture as a requirement for benchmarking in February 2020. This means that for a standard to be benchmarked against GFSI requirements, it must contain, “elements of food safety culture, at a minimum consisting of: communication, training, feedback from employees and performance measurement on food safety related activities” as well as “the senior management’s commitment” is required in a food safety management system. It is stated in paragraph “FSM 2 Management commitment and food safety culture”.