By Grainger Editorial Staff 11/10/20
In 2011, a major overhaul of the US food safety infrastructure began. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) gave the FDA a new way to address food safety. In the past, the agency reacted to problems after they had occurred, but under FSMA, the agency now strives to prevent foodborne illnesses before they happen.
The full implementation of FSMA has been a long process. Most of the foundational rules have now taken effect, but in some ways, the transformation of food safety is still just beginning. As businesses strengthen their efforts to prevent foodborne illnesses, they've focused more and more on the goal of building strong cultures of food safety with their organizations. In fact, food safety culture is one of the four core elements in the FDA's New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, the agency's plan to continue building on the FSMA foundation.
And the COVID-19 pandemic has made the importance of good food safety culture even more evident, according to the FDA:
The pandemic shined a light on what it truly means to have strong food safety cultures, which is all about the people who work on farms and in facilities accepting responsibility for producing safe foods and keeping those people safe when co-workers are sick." —New Era of Smarter Food Safety: Frequently Asked Questions
An organization's food safety culture is the product of people's values and attitudes, their abilities and their behavior patterns, according to an article in Food Science and Technology. When an organization has a good food safety culture, its prescriptive safety rules are reflected in the real-world practices of employees and leaders at all levels and in every role. The shared belief that unsafe food should never make it to market is a core commitment of a good food safety culture.
So how do you measure food safety culture? These five questions can help you start your assessment.
The five questions above are a great way to get an initial perspective on the food safety culture within an organization, but this is only a first step. As you take steps to improve or reinforce that culture, consider assessment techniques that can give you an even deeper understanding of what's going on. For example, conducting employee surveys and developing key performance indicators, or KPIs, around metrics like audit scores or hygiene compliance can help quantify any improvements in your organization's culture of food safety. The importance of a good food safety culture for food businesses of all kinds has never been clearer.
The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.