What do Codex Alimentarius, the EU’s new draft rule, FDA’s “New Era,” and GFSI Benchmarking Requirements Version 2020 have in common? All are initiating a new or updated focus on Food Safety Culture. This means that all in the food industry – worldwide – will need to be initiating or updating their focus on Food Safety Culture as well.
What does this mean and what are the standards/regulatory bodies doing?
On the global level, the Codex Alimentarius Commission is expected to adopt a revision of its global standard on General Principles of Food Hygiene (CXC 1-1969) in October, introducing food safety culture as a general principle to enhance food safety by increasing the awareness and improving the behavior of employees in food establishments.
As discussed in a GFSI article, food safety culture is important to enable the industry to track with the dramatic changes in the way food is produced and distributed in the modern world. The two main current methods are regulatory inspection and organizational education/training, but statistics show that a high percentage of outbreaks are caused by infected persons, employee practices, and attitudes or behaviors, so changing employee behavior is critical
Strengthening food safety culture relies on the implementation of an action-based food-safety management system that integrates food science and social-behavioral studies. It needs to be cultivated by corporate leadership, and emphasize food safety and an environment that encourages discussion, sharing, and mutual compromise among individual employees. Thus, it requires the “intentional commitment and efforts of leaders” at all levels of the organization who express “their willingness to foster a food safety culture and to make management decisions necessary for its realization, such as system construction and resource allocation.” A strong food safety culture empowers the workforce to have ownership and pride in food safety, promoting communication with all levels of the organization.
In consideration of the expected CODEX principle, along with the expectations of consumers and trade partners that food produced in the EU complies at least with such global standard, the EU’s revised regulation requires that food business operators shall establish, maintain and provide evidence of an appropriate food safety culture through:
The regulation also allows for the consideration of the nature and size of the business in its implementation of food safety culture.
In the US, FDA’s New Era Blueprint states that “A strong food safety culture is a prerequisite to effective food safety management,” and sees it as a critical aspect not only for food facilities but also on farms and in homes. Thus, its primary method of implementation will be the promotion of food safety culture throughout the food system, within the agency, and to consumers, using “new, tech-enabled popular mediums and tools, such as Smart Home devices, smartphones, digital platforms, and more to reach consumers with Smarter Food Safety messages.”
The concept of food safety culture is not new, but the increased focus of both standards and regulatory bodies on the concept is. So Whether you have a single facility in the Heartland of the U.S. or a global network of facilities around the world, it is becoming critical that you have a thorough understanding of the concept of food safety culture and a well thought out (and advisedly, written) food safety culture plan – as a foundation. Beyond that, you need to ensure that everyone in your company not only understands food safety culture but that they buy into it and live it. Food safety Culture has to be engrained in the vision and mission of the organization to become a driver for success in delivering safe food to consumers.
It not an easy concept or task, but it has been successfully accomplished by companies around the world – large and small.
If you’re just at the front end of development for your business and need assistance, would like to have your existing plan assessed, or need employee training or education – Give TAG a call today. We can help.