Food safety culture and Fonzie
I thought food safety culture was sorta cool when I came up with it, independently, in 2006 at IAFP, with Amy the French professor’s inspiration, but soon realized it was just another catch-phrase.
Sorry Frank and Chris.
Culture may mean not repeating the past.
So I chuckled with the onset of age and dementia when Issue 8 of the BRC Food Safety Global Standard, which came into force 1st February 2019, introduced a new clause requiring all companies to:
“Define and maintain a clear plan for the development and continuing improvement of a food safety and quality culture.” This plan must include defined activities for all areas impacting product safety with an action plan on how this is undertaken and measured, and a timeline for implementation. This plan also needs to be reviewed to ensure effectiveness.
A food safety culture is the “shared values, beliefs and norms that affect the mindset and behaviour towards food safety in, across and throughout an organisation.”
“Culture is an instrumental factor in nurturing an organisation’s food safety compliance and is regulated by senior management, most of whom recognise its importance, but often overestimate the level of employee commitment and underestimate the resources needed to maintain it. In reality it cannot be a one-off initiative but requires ongoing commitment to foster a sustained proactive food safety culture.”
Sure, the top-types need to set the tone, but culture is when everyone on the front-line knows microbial food safety.
I always advocated a bottom up kinda approach: the whole concept of food safety culture is empowering the weak links in the food safety system, from farm to fork. Top down will fail, besides, food safety culture jumped the shark years ago.
NSF have developed the food safety culture model which is a web-based application that allows you to undertake a food safety culture survey across your business. It provides comprehensive information to measure your food safety cultural maturity risk level on a risk-rated scale from 1-5.
Food safety types need to be more creative with the message and the medium.