Outbreaks of foodborne diseases are recurrent events, which regularly cost human lives. In modern view, food safety goes beyond food safety management systems; and this means that food safety culture, with its internal and external environment, must also be considered and taken into account. This article aims to briefly discuss the key issues of a food safety culture and the characteristics of the company’s involvement with this element. The work discusses the latest legal regulations since the term “food safety culture” has become an official law in European Union and is recommended by Codex Alimentarius for implementation.
Food Safety Culture-a new element in the assurance of safety system, 2021
Department of Hygiene of Animal Feedingstuffs, National Veterinary Research Institute in Pulway
The importance of a safety culture in the food industry has been systematically growing for years, but not without difficulties. The research problem undertaken by the authors is to answer the question whether and to what extent this issue is present in the norms and standards recommended by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).
The aim of the article is to present the general essence of food safety culture and to show its relationship with the requirements of the indicated norms and standards. The following research methods were used: literature analysis, secondary data analysis, synthesis and inference. The article defines the concept of food safety culture from the perspective of organizational and national culture. The authors of the work analyzed all standards and norms in terms of the requirements of the food safety culture.
Food safety culture in the light of the standards recognized by the GFSI, 2021
Food safety culture may establish the right environment for adequate food handling and management, reducing violations of food safety regulation, especially those related to foodborne disease outbreaks.
This study aimed to evaluate differences among elements of food safety culture in food services at low or high-risk for foodborne diseases. This study was conducted with 63 managers and 333 food handlers from 32 food services located in the metropolitan region of Campinas, State of São Paulo, Brazil. The following elements of food safety culture (considering the technical-managerial and human routes) were evaluated: management systems, style, and process; leadership; organizational commitment; food safety climate (communication; self-commitment; management and coworker support; environment support; risk judgment; normative beliefs and work pressure); and risk perceptions. In the technical-managerial route, restaurants were categorized as low- or high foodborne disease risk restaurants.
For the evaluation of food safety management systems, a validated checklist was used. In the human route, food safety climate analysis was performed by evaluating five elements applied exclusively to food handlers. High-risk restaurants presented a higher percentage of violation in most aspects related to food safety regulation and physical structure. Leadership and knowledge of low-risk restaurants’ managers presented a higher level when compared to high-risk restaurants’ managers, showing that in the first group managers acted as mediators of safe practices. Food handlers from low-risk restaurants presented higher scores in food safety knowledge, organizational commitment, and food safety climate when compared to food handlers from high-risk restaurants. In restaurants with lower risk for foodborne diseases, the elements of food safety culture were better evaluated, indicating fewer violations of food safety regulation. In these restaurants, a consistent food safety climate was perceived within the technical-managerial route.
This result shows that fewer violations of food safety legislation, especially those involving high-risk foodborne disease, were a positive outcome of an improved FS-culture. In this sense, it is possible to improve food safety by applying, evolving and maturing the concepts of FS-culture in restaurants in Brazil.
Food safety culture in food services with different degrees of risk for foodborne diseases in Brazil
The topic of food safety culture and climate is growing attention from industry, researchers, standards owners and certification bodies. Authors use the terms food safety culture and climate, however, there are no unified definitions to provide clarity on the meaning of these terms.
The objective of this study is to analyse the similarities and differences in current definitions and statements of Food Safety Culture and Food Safety Climate, and provide suggested clarifying definitions for both concepts, to bring a consistent approach to the field. The study evaluates the types of organisational cultures, climates and employees’ behaviours which provide important differences and further insights into each of these.
Looking back at the origins of safety culture following the Chernobyl accident in the 1980’s provides an understanding of how this laid the foundation for safety culture and climate in the UK. Reflecting on the increasing trend in Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) breaches due to the increasing number of incidents reported to authorities, the study suggests an increased focus is needed on culture, climate, and behaviour in food businesses. A critical analysis of previous definitions, statements and common words currently used to describe culture and climate in published definitions is provided. New definitions for food safety culture and climate based on factors shown to be important and are recommended for use by industry and researchers are proposed. The study assesses different types of culture, climate and employees, and suggests different employee behaviours impact the culture and climate of an organisation.
Terminology and the understanding of culture, climate, and behavioural change—impact of organizational and human factors on food safety management
Trends in Food Science and Technology, vol. 96, pg. 13-20
So I chuckled with the onset of age and dementia when Issue 8 of the BRC Food Safety Global Standard, which came into force 1st February 2019, introduced a new clause requiring all companies to:
“Define and maintain a clear plan for the development and continuing improvement of a food safety and quality culture.” This plan must include defined activities for all areas impacting product safety with an action plan on how this is undertaken and measured, and a timeline for implementation. This plan also needs to be reviewed to ensure effectiveness.
A food safety culture is the “shared values, beliefs and norms that affect the mindset and behaviour towards food safety in, across and throughout an organisation.”
“Culture is an instrumental factor in nurturing an organisation’s food safety compliance and is regulated by senior management, most of whom recognise its importance, but often overestimate the level of employee commitment and underestimate the resources needed to maintain it. In reality it cannot be a one-off initiative but requires ongoing commitment to foster a sustained proactive food safety culture.”
Sure, the top-types need to set the tone, but culture is when everyone on the front-line knows microbial food safety.
I always advocated a bottom up kinda approach: the whole concept of food safety culture is empowering the weak links in the food safety system, from farm to fork. Top down will fail, besides, food safety culture jumped the shark years ago.
NSF have developed the food safety culture model which is a web-based application that allows you to undertake a food safety culture survey across your business. It provides comprehensive information to measure your food safety cultural maturity risk level on a risk-rated scale from 1-5.
Food safety types need to be more creative with the message and the medium.
This research proposes a similar association between food safety culture, the measures of maturity and cost of poor quality. Through data collected at five multi-national food companies, this association is explored, and an improved food safety maturity model suggested.
The authors also propose a dynamic model of food safety culture, segmenting it into 4 building blocks: I. Organizational effectiveness, II. Organizational culture norms, III. Working group learned and shared assumptions, and behaviours, and IV. Individual intent and behaviours; and discuss the crucial role of actions between building blocks as part of the pathway to realizing economic gain.
The impact of maturing food safety culture and a pathway to economic gain
Many food processing companies have implemented a food safety management system to comply with the severe measures to deliver hygienic and safe food. Nevertheless, consumers can be exposed to unsafe food, with food poisoning as a result.
Research at Ghent University shows that human behavior and corporate culture may have an impact on these problems.
Researchers Elien De Boeck, Prof. Liesbeth Jacxsens (faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University) and Prof. Peter Vlerick (faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Ghent University) took a closer look at food companies and their management systems.
“Food safety is often looked at from a purely technological approach”, De Boeck explains. “Many companies choose to obtain a food safety certificate merely because their customers demand it; not because they are intrinsically motivated to improve their company’s hygiene and food safety. As such, certificates risk to become merely a checklist with requirements and lose their original goal: to safeguard and improve hygiene and food safety.”
A certificate is no guarantee for safe food”, the researcher continues. “Some companies with certificates still encounter food safety problems.”
Their study shows that in many cases, food safety problems are caused by the behavior of individual employees, who are, in turn, influenced by the corporate culture with respect to food safety and hygiene.
De Boeck: “As a company, you make choices: for instance, how do we manage food safety? Is it our priority to produce safe and hygienic food, or to increase production? This organizational culture reflects on all aspects in production and processing, and on the behavior of employees. If you give employees sufficient time to do their job well, they will get the signal that quality and food safety are more important than quantity. Furthermore, stress and burn-out are clearly linked to a weak food safety culture.”
A strong leading management and efficient communication seemed crucial to realize a better food safety culture.
“Every food processing company should have strong leaders on crucial positions in the company”, De Boeck advises. “These persons have a positive influence on the behavior of individual employees.”
Also good communication is important, to make employees aware of the importance of food safety and hygiene, for example by organizing frequent food safety and hygiene training.
In certification of companies, food safety culture will become more important in the future.
“Food companies need to aim for a good food safety culture, in which every employee is aware of the importance of safe and hygienic food”, the researcher concludes.
It’s a shame when one of your children jumps the shark.
Not my actual children, there are all unique and different, and I love their takes on life.
Ideas are not biological beings.
Food safety culture in a business is how everyone (owners, managers, employees) thinks and acts in their daily job to make sure that the food they make or serve is safe. It’s about having pride in producing safe food every time, recognising that a good quality product must be safe to eat. Food safety is your top priority.
A strong food safety culture comes from people understanding the importance of making safe food and committing to doing whatever it takes, every time. It starts at the top but needs everyone’s support across the business.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) says it has developed some easy-to-use tools and resources to help businesses and regulators work together to improve food safety culture, through a 3-step process:
Step 1: Know where your business stands
Step 2: Do something to make a difference
Step 3: Follow through for a long-lasting impact
Food safety is not simple, and nothing is easy.
How does FSANZ know their tools are easy to use? Have they done surveys, personal interviews?
It’s one of those catch phrases which means, be suspicious.
I’ve always told my daughters, anyone who says trust me is untrustworthy.
Food safety is like anything else, especially hockey: put in the hours, get it right.
Ronny Chieng may be known to barfbloggers as the Malaysian correspondent on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and his shit is funny.
And the dude knows food.
Kylie Northover of Melbourne’s The Age writes when asked about places to dine in Melbourne (that’s in Australia), Chieng swiftly sent back a small list of his favourite places – and a link, no less, to his own restaurant website.
Less food blog than a comprehensive list of cafes, restaurants and bars, Chieng’s site, I’m OK with Anything, also features his bio, links to buy merchandise and his agent details, but it’s foremost a comprehensive “guide to eating, drinking and playing in Melbourne city”.
“This is right up my alley,” Chieng says when we meet at his first choice, Malaysian cafe Aunty Franklee, in the city. “I’m all about this.”
Chieng loves his food, and when he moved here from Singapore to study law and commerce, he was shocked at the lack of late-night food options. This only got worse when he started comedy. But he’s seen a shift, and says it’s usually the Asian places that have spearheaded later opening hours.
“That then forces other places to start doing it too,” Chieng says. “When you do comedy shows, you usually don’t finish until about 11pm, then you have this adrenaline dump and you get hungry. There’s Supper Club and a couple of places but it used to be you had to settle for one of those shitty Lygon Street places; it’s good they’re open but the food is usually awful. That’s why I started the list.”
Visiting comedians would ask for recommendations and he would send out an email.
“That evolved into the website; now I just send people the link.”
Ronny Chieng Photo Credit: Comedy Central
His site covers brunch, lunch, dinner, late openings and bars, and while he doesn’t rate restaurants as such, he does differentiate between prices and “moods”, like “fancy but not super fancy”.
“Sometimes you feel like a $15 meal and sometimes you feel like a $30 one.”
Chieng is fussy about his Malaysian food, and Aunty Franklee, inside the Exford Hotel, serves the best char kwai teow, a hawker flat noodle dish, he’s had in Melbourne.
“It’s a dish that I judge all Malaysian restaurants by,” he says. “It’s hard to get this taste outside of Malaysia, and this is the best I’ve had.”
Chieng orders that and the Bak kut teh, a traditional pork rib dish cooked in a fragrant broth made with 23 herbs, for us to share.
Starters are not really a thing in Malaysian cuisine, he says.
“And there’s no rules – it’s very informal,” Chieng says. “You can even use your hands. In fact, I’m probably the best dressed person ever to walk in here.”
Born in Malaysia but raised mostly in Singapore, Chieng moved to Melbourne to study and in one of those almost unbelievable scenarios, decided to try out at an open mic night – despite never having harboured any desire to be a comedian – and found, with his deadpan delivery, he was an instant hit.
Was he always funny?
“I don’t think so,” he says, although that deadpan thing makes it hard to tell. “I gave it a try, just to confirm my suspicions, really.”
That was in 2009, in the final year of his studies – and when he couldn’t get a legal job, he chose comedy. By 2012, he’d won the best newcomer award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and was already touring the major comedy festivals.
And what does his Mum, who, as fans would know, often features in his material, make of his throwing away 10 years of study?
He says she’s “very happy” he got his degrees.
“She’s surprisingly OK – she never once mentioned anything about being part of my stand-up,” he says, again with a tone.
In late 2015, he was headhunted for US comedy news program The Daily Show after host Jon Stewart’s departure. His replacement, comic Trevor Noah, emailed Chieng out of the blue and asked him to come on board as a correspondent. Chieng was on tour at the time, and, as one would, accepted the gig right away.
He didn’t even have time to tell his parents before the news broke in the media.
“I moved straight from the UK to New York – I didn’t even come back to Australia.”
It has been “intense”. “Living in in New York is intense anyway but then with the Trump thing it became even more so,” he says.
On top of the long hours, for many months Chieng was co-writing his sitcom, International Student, via Skype, with Declan Fay in Australia.
“Not to mention I got married last September,” he says.
He married his Australian-Vietnamese fiancee at City Hall in New York, but he’s not getting out of it that easily, with two more “proper” weddings being planned.
“Mum was OK about it but we are getting married again in Melbourne and then again in Kuala Lumpur for my family,” he says. “The Asian wedding is coming!”
He also says no to a beer with lunch, but for less health-conscious reasons.
“The photos will turn out weird if I drink – I have one and my face goes red.”
Much like his character in International Student, one of six comedy pilots shown on ABC last year through its Comedy Showroom initiative, Chieng’s was the first to be made into a full series.
Based “loosely” on his experiences as a student at Melbourne University, it’s a comic look at student life when you’re straddling the cultural divides between locals and foreigners.
It is, Chieng says, an under-explored story.
“It’s all based on stuff that actually happened – I mean, nobody really broke a photocopier, but we had drinking games and I went out of my way to participate in one to get out of my comfort zone,” he says. ” I don’t think you can go through Melbourne Uni without doing a ‘boat race’, for example,” he says of the drinking game in the show’s pilot episode.
When Chieng arrived here, he knew only his sister.
“Usually the international students stick to themselves, but I wanted to make a point of making friends with other students, not just the international ones. I made friends with the locals.”
The series is co-produced by The Comedy Channel in the US, where it will also screen and Chieng reckons despite it being Australian, it will translate to America, where tales of college life are almost their own genre.
As for what lies ahead, Chieng has no definite plan.
“I come from the corporate world where everyone has a five-year plan, but performing arts doesn’t work that way; you just kinda do the best job you can with the gig you’ve got.”
International Student is on ABC, Wednesdays at 9pm, and on ABC iview (that’s the Australian one).
Results of a survey of 255 full-time food service professionals supported our proposed causal chain of impact that runs from “leader behavioral integrity for food safety” (the extent to which leaders/supervisors consistently enact and enforce food safety rules) through the proportion of food safety errors reported, through “error management” (an integrated set of practices involving error detection, correction, analysis, prevention and learning), finally to reduced food safety violations.
Specifically, this study found the mediating effect of error reporting between leader behavioral integrity for food safety and error management; and the mediating effect of error management between error reporting and food safety violations.
Results suggest that ongoing support and incentivizing of supervisors’ behavior may be a critical supplement to skill-based training of employees in reducing food safety errors and thus violations. The study found that high leader behavioral integrity for food safety can improve error reporting and error management leading to a reduction in the risk of foodborne illness, which is the ultimate goal of a food safety training program.
It is recommended that managers serve as role models by following proper food safety practices and reporting errors themselves. A manager who consistently enacts food safety priorities and protocols conveys more clear information about positive organizational priorities for safety, provides clearer incentives for safety behaviors, models desired attitudes, and enhances employee trust and thus willingness to learn; which is critical for the success of food safety programs.
Reducing food safety errors in the United States: Leader behavioral integrity for food safety, error reporting, and error management