What Is A Food Safety Culture And How To Build It?
Books, laws, and scientific studies all say that food safety is one of the key elements in achieving a successful business and relationship with customers. While they are not wrong, a lot of other factors in the background scenes are at play. Knowledge and skills related to food safety are only as good as the level of commitment of food handlers to their tasks. These factors can be best summarized by the concept of food safety culture within an organization.
News and scientific reports have repeatedly shown that the lack of commitment to food safety practices, particularly food hygiene, has led to widespread foodborne illnesses. Despite the mandates imposed by concerned food safety agencies, this problem persists in the food industry. In fact, diarrheal diseases as a result of poor food safety practices remain one of the leading causes of death around the world.
Food safety culture as a way of living
Food safety culture is a multi-faceted aspect of an organization. It refers to how your whole team sees the importance of food safety and your beliefs and mindset towards the topic. In an organization, a food safety culture shows how committed your team is to achieving a safe and sustainable food supply chain.
A positive and strong food safety culture is a reflection of the value food handlers dedicate to the importance of food safety. This, in turn, echoes through the quality and safety of their products and services. This type of culture is a unified effort from the management team and their subordinates. It is formed through several generations of your organization, promoted as a brand of your management style, and instilled through training.
Once the correct food safety culture is established in your organization, it will inevitably become part of all of the member’s ways of living. This will then encourage them to form strong principles when it comes to maintaining food safety even when no one is observing. You can also read about Traditional Holi Food and Traditional British Cakes that show your food culture.
Food safety culture impacts productivity
The World Health Organization has reported that at least $110 billion worth of economic value is lost due to productivity decrease and medical expenses as a result of foodborne illnesses. The various effects of foodborne diseases create a cycle that affects not only the health care systems but all other industries as well. This case can be traced back to the lack of enough food safety practices, or the commitment to their principles.
Food safety culture helps achieve the objectives of food safety laws and regulations consistently. It is an essential component to achieve sustainability and must be nourished by all food businesses. Often, food safety culture is neglected by organizations and relies solely on micromanaging their team. This type of food safety management system holds an organization back from maximizing its potential, thereby a missed opportunity.
Building a food safety culture in your organization
A strong food safety culture is best described by certain behaviors and management characteristics. These behaviors are expressed by the individual members of the group and make up the entirety of the food safety culture. They constitute more than just knowing how to do things the right way and include knowing how important it is to perform food safety practices correctly even without supervision. Some of the key behaviors that contribute to a good food safety culture include:
● Strong leadership. The essence of food safety culture can be traced back to the effectiveness and style of the management system. As all directions come from their department, it is also the management’s task to improve the atmosphere of the team and promote appreciation and commitment toward food safety. The management also must possess these characteristics themselves to be able to set goals that aspire everyone to participate in.
● Teamwork. Food safety culture is a collaborative effort. All participating members must get along well to push the objectives of the company forward. As with any manufacturing line, each point of the production process serves a valuable purpose and contributes to the totality of the product. Having mutual respect improves productivity and efficiency of tasks.
● Inclusivity. An environment built with a good food safety culture is one where all members are heard and opinions are considered. To achieve this, the management must be clear about the organization’s plans and objectives to promote inclusivity. Promoting involvement in the process of achieving food safety encourages employees to be more committed.
● Accountability. All members of your team must have the same goal in mind and work towards achieving it. Holding team members accountable for mistakes encourages them to perform more accordingly even without supervision.
● Commitment to the cause. When all the team members of your organization are committed to protecting public health with proper food safety practices, your food safety goals become easier to achieve. Employees become more determined to do well and they learn to value the welfare of your brand even more.
Compliance and a good food safety culture
While everyone is busy focusing only on implementing a very strict food safety management system, it would not hurt your team to improve your food safety culture at the same time. The prevalent presence of foodborne diseases around the globe is proof that it is not enough to just have stringent food safety rules and management systems. This also means that food handlers must be committed to achieving the goals of food safety. Managers and employees alike must work towards the goal and participate in creating a conducive and productive food safety culture.
All of these objectives can in fact be achieved through using digital solutions. Digital Food Safety Management Systems that promote communication, easier access to information, and a well-guided training program can help managers to create a positive food safety culture. With solutions such as that of FoodDocs FSMS, tasks that involve the promotion of food safety cultures such as training programs and orientations become easier to communicate to employees. Individuals also become more focused on their tasks by receiving personalized and specific activities designed for them. Going digital enables managers to focus more on building better relations with their team rather than concentrating on all activities. In choosing a management style, picking one that involves all team members and promotes understanding of the importance of food safety would be the best choice.