How an organization’s values impact food safety culture

Business operations are heavily influenced by an organization’s value set. If there aren’t clear values, then values can differ across departments driving misalignment and, likely, internal conflict. If an organization’s values aren’t aligned and implemented across all functions, a singular culture—food safety or otherwise—isn’t possible.

The value set of a business is also influenced by what level of risk it’s willing to take in order to deliver its overall objectives.

For food safety risk mitigation to be a priority it has to be established as a priority by the overall business and set within the overall business objectives.

When food safety risk is embedded in the individual objectives of each function, it builds the resilience of the overall organization by serving as an operating parameter for every function. It creates an environment where there is never any doubt that food safety risk is defined and will never be compromised; regardless of context, circumstances and cost.

In contrast, in organizations with functionally driven agendas, food safety risk is not a determining factor in the decision making or performance indicators of every function. In a functionally driven organization, a team like procurement will determine its own individual functional objectives, which may be separate and distinct to the overall business objectives.

The function of procurement is to ensure the timely delivery of materials and services, and in many organizations, it may also be challenged to drive a cost-based agenda. So, if a procurement team is not bound by an overall business value to manage food safety risk, their functional strategy doesn’t have to be influenced by the risks or values of other functions; and they don’t share or have to accept responsibility for the outcomes of its functional agenda in relation to food safety.

Without a clear set of business values engrained into all functional areas, functional agendas will be formed and create internal conflict and subcultures. For a food safety culture to be truly embedded, the values of an organization must be more than marketing content or embellished plaques in reception.

While the reason for this alignment are straightforward, as with many of the steps toward a successful food safety culture, the alignment of organization values can be a challenge. Organizations struggling with this, or any other aspect of implementing their food safety culture, can access additional support through BSI resources or our food safety culture training programme which includes (virtual) classroom training.