Training aspects of food safety culture
Bertrand Emond, Head of Membership and Training at Campden BRI, explains how companies can achieve excellence in their training programmes to strengthen their food safety culture.
The GFSI Food Safety Culture Position Paper defines food safety culture as: shared values, beliefs and norms that affect mindset and behaviour toward food safety in, across and throughout an organisation. Food safety is a shared responsibility and all employees have a role to play. Employees, irrespective of their position within a company, need to understand how their actions can have an impact (positive or negative) on food safety. To ensure the right behaviours at all times, each employee needs to have been trained properly; they need to know exactly what is expected of them, what the right thing to do is, how to do things right and crucially what the consequences are to them directly and to the company of not doing the right thing!
Companies also need to bear in mind that training is one of 20 dimensions that companies need to address to drive a strong food safety culture - as described in the GFSI position paper and in the Culture Excellence model. So, in the case of a near miss or incident, it is critical to carry out a thorough root cause analysis to determine the real reasons why the person behaved in that way; far too often, we see ‘re-training’ as the sole corrective action.
As part of Campden BRI’s work supporting companies with their food safety culture excellence programmes, it is clear that many companies struggle with ‘training’ as HR staff are typically not as engaged as they should be and not providing enough support to the technical functions within the food safety training activities. The most common feedback received includes:
- Training is not effective and has no direct impact on behaviour
- Training is not frequent enough and refreshers are late
- Training is not perceived as enjoyable and worthwhile
- Training has no clear and measurable objectives
- Perception of what constitutes training varies
- There is no robust training needs analysis across the organisation
- The competency/capability framework is non-existent or sketchy.
This is quite worrying as corporations and individuals need to learn new knowledge and skills quickly and need to be able to apply them effectively; high quality training is essential to ensure that employees are competent.