Food safety culture

Food safety culture

Learn more about food safety culture and how it can help your organization stay ahead of the curve

Learn more about food safety culture and how it can help your organization stay ahead of the curve

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What is food safety culture?

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”.

Training with BSI

How can you improve your business’ food safety culture?

Every food/ beverage business has a food safety culture. A food safety culture’s maturity will vary over different companies, sites and potentially even teams. Think of maturity as an assessment of how your food business makes food safety decisions, and how the people in that business act on food safety every day. A maturity model can help you highlight areas of strength and weakness. It can also act as a roadmap to help you engage colleagues who you might ultimately ask to change behaviors or help others to do so.

During the BSI 1 day training course on food safety culture, you’ll discover how to measure the maturity of your food safety culture, learning practical techniques such as nudging, anchoring and building a coalition to drive successful, visible change. Under the guidance of your tutor, you’ll create a food safety culture improvement action plan during the workshop to take back for implementation into your organization.

What can cause negative/ poor food safety culture?

  • Poor communication (or miscommunication)​
  • Lack of empowerment (or a fear based culture)​
  • Poor or limited training of personnel (outdated training practices)​
  • Poor motivation of personnel (lack of reward or recognition)​
  • Poor quality tools and equipment (or lack of appropriate tools and equipment)​
  • Poor or dysfunctional operating environment