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Food safety culture excellence

“Culture matters... Failure to understand culture and take it seriously can have disastrous consequences for an organization”. Edgar H. Schein, 1999.


“You can have the best documented food safety processes and standards in the world, but if they're not consistently put into practice by people, they're useless”. Frank Yiannas, 2009.


The importance of food safety culture has become increasingly recognised in the past few years, as has the role of psychology and the importance of behaviour-based approaches to food safety management. Within the food industry, food safety culture can be described as the “prevailing attitudes, values and practices related to food safety that are taught, directly and indirectly, to new employees” (Taylor, 2011). Some of these are easy to observe, such as the facilities and equipment, posters and paperwork, and the visible behaviours of staff. However, some are harder to see, such as underlying values and priorities, unspoken rules, and the way things are done when no-one is looking. This makes the clear identification and evaluation of food safety culture very challenging.


This white paper discusses a newly emerging approach to reinforce the culture of food safety.


Analysing food safety culture first requires a clear model of what an effective food safety culture actually is, including its technical, managerial and psychological aspects. The Culture Excellence Model below provides a theoretical framework for understanding the multi–layered and multi–dimensional elements involved.


Dimension Explanation
People
Empowerment Empowering people to take appropriate food safety actions
Reinforcement The reinforcement of food safety practices
Teamwork The effectiveness of food safety and HACCP teams
Training The effectiveness of food safety training and communications
Process
Control The effectiveness of food safety management control
Co-ordination The co–ordination of food safety across the company
Consistency The level of consistency and agreement in food safety
Systems The effectiveness of Food Safety Management Systems
Purpose
Vision The role of food safety in the long term vision of the company
Values The inclusion of food safety in core company values
Strategy The strategic direction and plans for food safety
Objectives Setting and managing food safety objectives
Proactivity
Awareness Awareness of external food safety influences and issues
Foresight Having foresight in relation to food safety risks
Change The level of change, innovation and investment in food safety
Learning Enabling organisational food safety learning