Creating a food safety culture is one of the most important jobs for any director in a food organisation. Creating and maintaining a positive food safety culture can provide numerous benefits to your food business. Such benefits include encouraging employees to be proactive and integral, improved engagement and positive behavioural change, whilst simultaneously creating a better reputation and increasing your trust with customers.
Firstly, it is important to understand that there are three components to food safety culture:
- What is visible, such as. your premises, equipment, what the staff are doing and your documents and records.
- The spoken rules and values e.g. communications/instructions from the manager, training, incentives and reward schemes.
- The final component are the unspoken values that the organisation holds. These are not visible and are often hard to access, however they have the largest impact on food safety culture which make them impossible to avoid.
Culture within food businesses can be described as the way your employees work when no-one is looking, for example are they wearing appropriate workwear all the time, or only when they are due an inspection? Ultimately, culture has the power to shape behaviour among employees in ways that are beyond your control. When employees, managers or leaders feel personally committed to food safety, they will consistently do the right thing, even when they know no one is watching.
The importance of food safety is simple, unsafe behaviour results in unsafe food, which can be extremely damaging to your business. On the flip side of this, a strong food safety culture can result in a more profitable, cost-effective and better organised business.
For change to happen, changes need to start from the top. It is important to ensure that owners, managers and leaders within the business are walking the walk, rather than just talking the talk. It is fundamental for these people to demonstrate a strong commitment and positive mind set towards food safety, in order for employees to do the same.
Food safety training shouldn’t finish after an employee’s induction week; it should be an ongoing effort throughout your employee’s time with you. By immediately training new staff and maintaining ongoing training will emphasise why food safety is an ongoing high priority for your business. Refresher courses, incentives and continuous updates are crucial to keeping food safety culture current on people’s mind.
Adapt a food safety culture that starts at the highest level, with investment from leadership. It is important to demonstrate that food safety is a priority, emphasising safety, cleanliness and the importance of understanding and following food safety protocols. This emphasises from the leadership down will ensure that employees work continuously towards the positive food safety culture mission that you have put in place.
What can we do to help?
If you are in need of assistance with your food safety auditing process, please submit an enquiry below or contact us on 08450 267 745 for a free telephone consultation.