Introduction Food Safety Culture GFSI
Food is necessary for human life. Nevertheless, according to the World Health Organization, about one in ten individuals becomes ill after consuming foods cooked or processed by others. Therefore, practices aimed at ensuring the safety of our food are as vital as ever. When our food is harvested, processed, prepared, sold, and served by others, we rely on every individual in the food supply chain to make safe decisions. Thus, the cultures of each business in the supply chain have a big impact on these decisions, as do the dimensions of these cultures that enhance or hinder food safety decisions and practices.
This paper is intended to present global stakeholders with the Global Food Safety Initiative’s viewpoint on what organizational characteristics drive the maturity of food safety and how an organization’s culture may be used to sustain a high level of food safety over time.
Food Safety Culture
The paper is structured into five chapters, each addressing one of the five dimensions of food safety culture. Based on an examination of existing models used to analyze food safety and organizational culture, several dimensions were identified.
“Shared values, beliefs and norms that affect mindset and behaviour toward food safety in, across and throughout an organisation.”GFSI
Vision and Mission
Vision and mission highlight an organization’s primary reason for existence and how it integrates this into expectations and specific messages for its stakeholders.
Leadership within the organization determines the culture’s tone and focus on food safety. Food safety should not be directly addressed in the corporate vision and purpose statements; instead, its significance should be highlighted in company communications.
A clear vision that is shared and embedded throughout the business is required for direction-setting, which aids in the development of a positive food safety culture. Furthermore, investment alignment ensures that the company has enough resources for food safety activities. Nevertheless, the company’s strategic approach is aligned with the needs of the food safety policy statement. Therefore, effective communication about food safety must be used throughout the entire enterprise. Different stakeholder groups should receive clear, consistent messaging that is tailored to their needs. Thus, the importance that an organization places on food safety ultimately determines the credibility of its food safety messaging.
People are the most important aspect of a food safety culture. Human actions and behaviours, ranging from procedures on the farm to culinary techniques, along with consumer habits prior to consuming food, contribute to the safety of food and may either lessen or raise the risk of foodborne disease.
Therefore, establishing a standard food safety framework with clearly defined roles and responsibilities is essential. Key aspects of this dimension are to provide proper governance and metrics, in addition to including teaching staff and promoting good behaviour. The extent to which individuals are enabled to promote food safety will influence their organization’s capacity to adapt, enhance, and maintain its food safety culture. Hence, all leaders must “walk the walk” and maintain consistency in their communication to ensure that food safety is understood as a journey of continuous improvement.
Consistency relates to the right alignment of food safety principles with requirements on people, technology, resources, and procedures to guarantee the consistent and effective implementation of a food safety program that supports a food safety culture.
A variety of interrelated decisions, activities, and behaviors, such as accountability and compliance, performance measurement, and documentation, reveal this consistency. The direction-setting process in connection with risks, investment alignment, and consistent food safety communications are additional critical activities where consistency is essential.
The term “adaptability” describes an organization’s capacity to respond to shifting circumstances and influences while maintaining or modifying its current status.
The change within a company might be anticipated or could manifest as an actual occurrence, like a product recall or a client problem. Any business with a solid food safety culture will demonstrate its adaptability by being efficient at foreseeing, planning for, and responding to change. How well a company responds to change and crises is greatly influenced by its strong and proactive leadership.
Hazard and Risk Awareness
This factor distinguishes the culture of food safety from the overall corporate culture. A crucial component of creating and maintaining a culture of food safety is the recognition of actual and potential risks and hazards at all levels and functions. Thus, everyone should be able to access and comprehend fundamental scientific and technical data.
Nevertheless, as a corporation, it is essential to be informed of the most recent industry knowledge, such as market incidents, modifications in food safety legislation, important new technologies, and analytical advancements. This will increase awareness and comprehension of potential dangers and risks.
Food industry legislation and standards have contributed significantly to making the global food supply safer. Food safety is a shared responsibility, from farm to fork. Nevertheless, the Global Food Safety Initiative argues that in order for food safety to be successful and sustainable, it must exist within a company’s culture in addition to formal regulations. Therefore, the Food Safety Culture Blueprint was written to implement and maintain it in all companies, regardless of size.
Read the full report here.
Managerial Food Safety Culture
The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) defines food safety cultures as:
“shared values, beliefs and norms that affect mindset and behaviour toward food safety in, across and throughout an organization.”GFSI
The term was created by the group using their work and current research on organizational and food safety culture. In practice, it means that staff as individuals and as a group feel some form of ownership toward Food Safety Culture. Everyone knows the basics of food safety no matter what department you work in; everyone adheres to hygiene regulations no matter what department you work in, can hold each other accountable, and provide feedback in a critical yet constructive manner, as well as rewarding the team effort.
QAssurance offers an E-learning module as well as a Food Safety Culture scan. Both of the tools generate a report directly to ensure consistency and documentation. Using both tools symbiotically ensures that the overall education and awareness about food safety can be measured, as well as how Food Safety Culture in the organisation is perceived.
Awareness of food safety issues and hazards can be a complicated matter, especially beyond the quality department. However, food safety is a team effort. Therefore there should be capacity, time and skill to teach each department the basics of food safety.
QAssurance offers a Food Safety Basics E-learning module; with this module, employees can be taught by food safety professionals, where the basics of food safety are discussed. Various topics include food fraud, pest management, hygiene regulations, and HACCP. There will be room for questions at the end of the class. An exam will be done directly after the online lecture. Perhaps there are several topics that should be highlighted more deeply because the score per topic can be optimally zoomed in. In a healthy food safety culture, questions and difficulties should also be discussed. Based on this information and the results of all exams, new objectives can be set concerning education and improving the food safety culture.
QAssurance offers the iMIS Food Safety Culture scan; this scan is based on the 7S model, which is used more often in organizational science and business transformation. When getting the results, we do not just look at the scores, but also at where the biggest differences are. If departments have a completely different perspective, then it is good if you can map it out and, when necessary, start the conversation to see where there is room for improvement. The scan is fast, and a report of the results will be generated directly.
- GFSI (2018), A Culture of Food Safety: A position paper from the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).
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