A food safety culture within a food business is a shared, positive behaviour towards food safety. You need every member of your team to adopt this attitude. Managers, supervisors, and every other member of staff must consider: Is there anything they could be doing better?
The first thing you need for a positive food safety culture is management commitment. The owner and managers must lead by being great role models and setting an example.
This includes wearing protective clothing, following jewellery policies and hand washing. Often, many managers believe they are exempt from such basics.
However, can you introduce a food safety culture if you don’t observe the basics? The answer is no.
Secondly, you need to establish food safety responsibilities within the organisation from the top down – ideally built into job roles. You should also establish who’s responsible in the absence of key personnel, especially during holidays, sickness, etc.
Next, make sure you have sufficient knowledge and resources to develop your food safety management system. To do this, you’ll need to train key personnel within the organisation or bring in a Food Safety consultant to assist.
You’ll also need to make sure you have the resources to implement your food safety culture system, such as temperature control and monitoring equipment, protective clothing, and chemical supplies.
Communication & training
Despite developing a HACCP system, many businesses fail to effectively implement them because they don’t communicate the standards to staff. So, you need to establish how you’re 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. You need to decide what best suits your organisation.
Some businesses choose to establish Food Safety Ambassadors – in organisations with multiple outlets, these 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 to Food Safety Levels 2, 3 and 4 – comprehensive training is also required on your 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’ll monitor the success of your food safety culture. This is not just achieving controls at critical control points, or fully completing monitoring records, but how every individual in your organisation fulfils their responsibilities.
Food safety is never complete. It’s something that you need to work on every single day. Your HACCP system should be a living document, subject to review and verification, and should challenge you whenever something should go wrong.
Are there any issues with using your systems? Would better training fix those issues? It’s important to measure how effective your training actually is.
Are you providing the best training for your staff and your business? Do the trainers understand and know your organisation and the food safety culture systems you utilise?
How effective is your training? Has it improved your working procedures? This also applies to externally provided services – for example, pest control. Are they also supporting your Food Safety culture?