You have opted for a quality system within your company. Setting up and implementing this system took time and effort. The audit was successful, yet it still feels like something is missing. That feeling may stem from the fact that a food safety culture is lacking.
Food safety culture is a comprehensive term. The meaning cannot be put into one sentence. Culture is more than a concept; it comprises the norms and values of an organisation and how these are expressed in the organisation.
One definition of culture is that of Brian Chesky, CEO and head of Community at Airbnb: “Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with passion”. According to this definition, food safety is a reflection of the collective behaviours, norms and values in order to optimise food safety. This culture is visible in the workplace and fans out across every layer of the organisation.
Generally speaking, food safety is a difficult concept for quality managers. It is abstract, not immediately demonstrable and difficult to inspect. Yet it is becoming increasingly important. Every employee of a food company bears responsibility, to a certain degree, for the preparation and/or marketing of safe food. In addition to this ‘own’ responsibility, food safety is also a collective goal. This is where culture comes in: creating solidarity to realise a higher (quality) level. The quality manager plays an important role in this process.
A corporate culture in which food safety has been anchored contributes to the prevention of disaster scenarios. More and more often, the media is informing consumers of major food recalls. Food awareness and the importance of safe food is becoming increasingly important to the consumer. It is therefore advisable to invest in food safety.
A food safety culture starts with the commitment and awareness of each and every employee. A certification for a high quality standard brings your quality system to a higher level. If you simultaneously put energy into creating awareness of the importance of safe food, then you will create a sustainable quality system. This will make the quality system a constant factor within the organisation, even when supervision is lacking.
Leading companies in the sphere of food safety cultures exude reliability to the public. This can lead to commercial success.
It is the task of the management to design, roll out and maintain the frameworks for this culture. The management is the driving force behind company policy and the corresponding norms and values. Culture will expand further from the top layer to the other layers in the company. It is important to involve all of the employees in the implementation of a corporate culture. For example, the middle-level management can provide support in the sphere of communication and direction and can anticipate on behaviour and change.
In order to inspire and motivate employees, it is advisable that managers ensure that their efforts for food safety are visible on a daily basis, both minor as well as major efforts. Sharing the company vision will contribute to this as well.
Creating a food safety culture is complicated. It is all about a collective goal, a way of thinking and behaving that goes beyond a mere certification. The ultimate goal of a food professional is creating a food safetyculture – not a food safety standard.