Chefs serving food
31st May 2016

So what is a food safety culture?

A food safety culture within a food business is a shared, positive behaviour towards food safety. It should be adopted by management, supervisors and food handlers alike. Could anything be changed?

Management Commitment

The first ingredient to a food safety culture is management commitment. The owner/managers must lead by being great role models and setting the example. This includes wearing protective clothing, following jewellery policies and hand washing. My experience is that many managers believe they are exempt from such basics. Can you introduce a food safety culture if you don’t observe the basics?

Responsibilities

Secondly, is the need to establish food safety culture responsibilities within the organisation from the top down, ideally built into job descriptions. You should also establish who is responsible in the absence of key personnel, especially during holidays, sickness etc.

Resources

Next, ensure within the organisation you have sufficient knowledge and resources to develop you food safety management system. This is achieved by training key personnel within the organisation or, bringing in a food safety consultant to assist. Sufficient resources to implement your food safety culture system are also necessary, such as temperature control & monitoring equipment, protective clothing, chemical supplies etc.

Communication & Training

Many businesses fail to effectively implement their HACCP due to failure to communicate the standards to staff. There is a need to establish how you are going to set up your channels of communication within the organisation. Communication needs to be from top to bottom, bottom to top and across personnel at the same level. It’s what best suits your organisation. I have seen the establishment of “food safety ambassadors” in an organisation with multiple outlets work extremely well. Another great example of communication, utilised by some of our clients, is their own food safety newsletter.

Staff and management should not only be trained in Levels 2, 3 and 4, comprehensive training is required on the organisation’s HACCP system. You should also ensure supervisors are trained in food safety and how to manage staff.

Monitoring & Review

You also need to establish how you will monitor the success of your food safety culture. This is not just achieving critical controls at Critical Control Points or fully completed monitoring records, but how every individual in your organisation has fulfilled their responsibilities.

Finally, remember that food safety is never finished, it is an area of continuous improvement. Your HACCP system should be a living document, subject to review, verification and challenge if something should go wrong.

Weaknesses implementing your system must be addressed by training. The effectiveness of training must be assessed periodically. Is training providing the best fit for your organisation and your personnel? Do the trainers understand and know your organisation and the food safety culture systems you utilise? Is there a system of assessing the effectiveness of training provided and how it has improved practices within the workplace? This also applies to externally provided services, for example pest control, are they all supporting your food safety culture?

For help and advice on implementing a positive food safety culture, get in touch with us today on 01252 728 300


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