Food Safety Culture in Organisations

20th November 2023

Food Safety Culture in Organisations

Presented by: Frank Yiannis

On Tuesday 07 September 2023, The New Zealand Food Safety, Science and Research Centre (NZFSSRC) conducted the webinar: “Food Safety Culture in Organizations” which highlighted the experience and studies of Frank Yiannis. Frank is well known for highlighting the need for an effective food safety culture, in order to achieve successful food safety systems in business.

The webinar focused on showcasing how food safety compliance can be improved by understanding and implementing food safety culture within organizations.

The presenter discussed the need for a combination of the use of technology (High Tech) and a behavioural approach of integrating a food safety culture (High Touch) in a business.

The presenter then shifted the focus towards food safety culture with a series of questions: What is culture? Why should we focus on culture? Who creates culture? How is quality culture created? How these questions fit within the role of management were explored.

The key drivers for bringing in a good food safety culture were:

Good leadership: Achieved when a leader is able to promote good behaviour culture within a workplace, which affects the social group (Team Members) working within that space.

A sense of responsibility: Bringing awareness to team members about the importance of the role they are carrying out, especially for organisations handling food.

For example, Fonterra has created a chart which has photos of all their employees, stating: “we ensure Food safety and Quality standards are followed by us”. This creates a sense of responsibility amongst team members.

According to the presenter, the factors that affect food safety culture are:

Leadership failure: When management has problems instructing team members and coordinating their efforts towards achieving food safety culture.

Social group behaviour: This is ‘infectious’ – when one team member tends to follow food safety instructions, other team members are most likely to follow up.

A culture of complacency: the belief that things are good enough as they are.

The key attributes regarding the creation of food safety culture in an organization were:

Creating high quality expectations: by setting up company values and KPI which reflects food safety.

Education and training: by structuring vocational and practical measures which gives complete understanding of food safety and culture in your organization.

Timely communication with employees regarding food quality and safety: by conducting timely team meeting discussing the positives and problems for the same.

Establishing of quality goals: by measuring food safety and quality by auditing to upscale compliance, catch employees doing things right.

Consequences for quality related behaviour: by regulating behaviour and recognition programs to promote positive behaviour culture.

Promoting a food safety culture environment is not just about ensuring food safety regulations are followed in the workplace. It is also about understanding the team, and their behavior, which influences how well a food safety culture is maintained & embedded in the workplace.