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
Mahbub Chowdhury, 46, from Swindon, was found to have a filthy bottle in the kitchen of Yeahya Flavour of Asia, which inspectors concluded was covered in faecal matter.
When questioned, he said he filled the empty milk bottle with water from the kitchen taps before using it to clean his backside after going to the toilet. ‘He did not use toilet paper for cultural reasons. Inspectors concluded the brown finger prints was faecal matter.’
Chowdhury prepared meat and fish curries at the takeaway, which was run out of a rented kitchen at the Nine Elms pub.
The chef, who no longer works at the takeaway, pleaded guilty to ten counts of breaching food hygiene regulations at Swindon Magistrates Court.
He was fined more than £5,000 last year for ten similar offences relating to food hygiene.
Mark Glendenning, defending, said the milk bottle was never examined and the marks could have been spices.
Rachel Laudan, a visiting scholar at the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies at the University of Texas, Austin who has a doctorate in history & philosophy of science from University College, London , writes in Gastronomica, vol. 1, no. 1, Winter 2001, pp. 36-44. That modern, fast, processed food is a disaster. That, at least, is the message conveyed by newspapers and magazines, on television cooking programs, and in prizewinning cookbooks.
The article is long and insightful, and I’ve only included a few highlights.
We hover between ridicule and shame when we remember how our mothers and grandmothers enthusiastically embraced canned and frozen foods. We nod in agreement when the waiter proclaims that the restaurant showcases the freshest local produce. We shun Wonder Bread and Coca-Cola. Above all, we loathe the great culminating symbol of Culinary Modernism, McDonald’s — modern, fast, homogenous, and international.
Culinary Luddism involves more than just taste. Since the days of the counterculture, it has also presented itself as a moral and political crusade. Now in Boston, the Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust works to provide “a scientific basis for the preservation and revitalization of traditional diets.
As an historian I cannot accept the account of the past implied by Culinary Luddism, a past sharply divided between good and bad, between the sunny rural days of yore and the gray industrial present. My enthusiasm for Luddite kitchen wisdom does not carry over to their history, any more than my response to a stirring political speech inclines me to accept the orator as scholar.
That food should be fresh and natural has become an article of faith. It comes as something of a shock to realize that this is a latter-day creed. For our ancestors, natural was something quite nasty. Natural often tasted bad.
Fresh meat was rank and tough; fresh milk warm and unmistakably a bodily excretion; fresh fruits (dates and grapes being rare exceptions outside the tropics) were inedibly sour, fresh vegetables bitter. Even today, natural can be a shock when we actually encounter it. When Jacques Pepin offered free-range chickens to friends, they found “the flesh tough and the flavor too strong,” prompting him to wonder whether they would really like things the way they naturally used to be. Natural was unreliable. Fresh fish began to stink. Fresh milk soured, eggs went rotten.
Everywhere seasons of plenty were followed by seasons of hunger when the days were short. The weather turned cold, or the rain did not fall. Hens stopped laying eggs, cows went dry, fruits and vegetables were not to be found, fish could not be caught in the stormy seas.
Tequila? Promoted as the national drink of Mexico during the 1930s by the Mexican film industry. Indian tandoori chicken? The brainchild of Hindu Punjabis who survived by selling chicken cooked in a Muslim-style tandoor oven when they fled Pakistan for Delhi during the Partition of India. The soy sauce, steamed white rice, sushi, and tempura of Japan? Commonly eaten only after the middle of the nineteenth century.
The lomilomi salmon, salted salmon rubbed with chopped tomatoes and spring onions that is a fixture in every Hawaiian luau? Not a salmon is to be found within two thousand miles of the islands, and onions and tomatoes were unknown in Hawaii until the nineteenth century. These are indisputable facts of history, though if you point them out you will be met with stares of disbelief.
What we need is an ethos that comes to terms with contemporary, industrialized food, not one that dismisses it, an ethos that opens choices for everyone, not one that closes them for many so that a few may enjoy their labor, and an ethos that does not prejudge, but decides case by case when natural is preferable to processed, fresh to preserved, old to new, slow to fast, artisanal to industrial.
Such an ethos, and not a timorous Luddism, is what will impel us to create the matchless modern cuisines appropriate to our time.