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What is my role in developing a positive food safety culture?

This week, in preparation for a large food safety culture assessment at a leading retailer, we were discussing the need for all levels of the organisation to be competent in food safety as it is relevant to their function. Please bear in mind that to be competent, one must have the right skills, knowledge, and education. We do need to break it down and then ensure that each level of the organisation is properly catered for.

I was inspired by Professor Chris Griffith’s book “Developing and maintaining a positive food safety culture”:

Senior management/
top management/
Ultimate responsibility
to set and lead the
food safety culture
An understanding of consumer perceptions of food safety.
Financial and legal implications of food safety failures.
Food safety as corporate governance.
Resources needed for effective food safety management systems.
The real risks that need control in the products offered.
Food safety certification schemes.
The role of audits in FSMS.
Need for core food safety knowledge.
The need for food safety
leadership skills.
Middle management – Production,
maintenance, quality, purchasing, marketing, risk
Immediate responsibility for food safety cultureCore and additional food safety knowledge.
PRP knowledge.
Microbiology/food technology.
HACCP requirements and system.
Food safety auditing.
FSMS requirements and set up.
Preventive maintenance for hazard control.
Food fraud mitigation.
Food defense mitigation.
Management skills.
Supervisors – Production, quality, cleaning, maintenance, receiving, dispatchResponsibility to deliver and communicate food safety cultureImportance and role of FSMS documentation.
Core and additional food safety knowledge.
Food safety hazards and their control.
CCP monitoring and corrective action.
Sampling procedures.
Supervisory skills.
Background to food safety, implications to consumers and financial losses.
ShopfloorAccept and contribute to Food safety cultureCore food safety knowledge, hazards and risks.
Competency in all practical hygiene skills. with relevant understanding of WHY and the consequences.
Adapted from Griffith (2014) Developing and Maintaining a Positive Food Safety Culture

There is not a one size fits all approach. We need to take time to this about the objective for training each level in our company and then match the training intervention with this objective. Some things might be nice to know but don’t forget about the things that I have to know and do.

Although research has shown that training on its own does not change peoples’ behaviour and therefore it is not the only mechanism we have to consider in developing a food safety culture, I do think it is often overlooked or done for the sake of ticking yet another box or getting a certificate for that audit. Let’s slow it down and re-evaluate WHY.