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Growing a strong national Food Safety Culture

We recently had a great opportunity to share some food safety knowledge on the Daily Thetha show on SABC 1. This is an educational program targeting 16 to 24-year-olds. They have a viewership of 1,5 million people so this was definitely our biggest audience ever. What a privilege for Food Focus.

Sitting in the studio, listening to the studio guests and viewers who called in, I was struck with the need for more education about food safety matters.

International studies attributing foodborne illness within the home had incidence rates from 12% to 64%. For studies in the UK, the home was implicated in 12% to 17% of outbreaks. The European Food Safety Authority reported between 36% and 39% of outbreaks are attributed to the home setting in 2011, 2014 and 2015.

www.foodsafetynews.com – 2018 post

Well, that’s not our problem you are probably saying. Isn’t that what the government is supposed to be doing anyway? And yes, on one hand, you are probably right.

But you employ these people too. We spend a lot of effort and money too, educating our staff on food safety for our factories, restaurants and retail outlets. And well done on that, by the way.

But what about food safety at home?

We learn best when we understand the context of the information. It is not as easy for everyone to transpose this context to home life. So why don’t we make the connections for them? We have the knowledge and skills.

Some ideas to consider:
  1. Why not have a food safety family day and invite your staff to bring their families in to learn more about how you manufacture safe food and then how to make safe food at home, using home examples?
  2. Why not prepare a “food safety at work, Food safety at home” booklet that staff can use as a reminder of their training but also take home to share with their families?
  3. Why not have a food safety at home session as part of your food safety training programme, even if it is just 30 minutes?

Food safety culture is about the aggregation of the prevailing, relatively constant, learned, shared attitudes, values and beliefs contributing to the hygiene behaviours within a particular food-handling environment (Griffith).

By sharing this knowledge, we can start to make a real difference, not only to the safety of our products, but also the safety of our staff and the community at large.