Business Management Systems

How to implement a strong food safety culture in your business

A strong food safety culture comes from all staff within a food business understanding the importance of making safe food and committing to doing whatever it takes, every time. In this post, find out the basics of this fundamental food business requirement including what contributes to a strong food safety culture.

What is food safety culture?

There are lots of different definitions and explanations of food safety culture floating out there but I think the following one, published by Food Standards Australia New Zealand, is the easiest one to understand.

“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”.

Benefits of a strong food safety culture

There are many benefits of having a strong food safety culture in your food business, the most obvious being the manufacture and sale of safe food. It can also protect your business from financial loss and maintain the integrity of your company’s brand.

Components of a strong food safety culture

The following points can help with establishing a strong food safety culture within your food business.

  1. Strong Leadership –  It starts at the top. Senior leaders must show the way and openly commit to making safe food the top priority throughout the business.
  2. Committed managers – Managers can show their commitment to food safety through dedicating time and effort.  Implementing effective two-way communication and a supportive environment where staff feel confident to contribute is a must.
  3. Everyone contributes – Everyone in the business believes making safe food is important and everyone plays a part. This includes factory workers, maintenance staff, procurement team members, drivers, cleaners, external contractors as well as team leaders and senior managers.
  4. Everyone is accountable – Everyone understands that they are held responsible for ensuring food is safe.
  5. Knowing and acting – This is more than training people. It is making sure that all staff and contractors know the risks and do the right thing, every time.  Starting with a comprehensive staff induction program and implementing refresher training will be a great foundation to build upon.  To get help on developing a training program for your food business please click here to let me know.
  6. Continual improvement – Be proactive by monitoring what goes on. Look for ways to improve and prevent problems happening in the future.

To find out different ways that you can implement these different components check out this excellent free resource called “What does a strong food safety culture look like?”.

GFSI Compliance

If you have a GFSI recognized standard implemented within your food business, you are required to demonstrate how you enable, implement and support a strong food safety culture. Please share your knowledge and food safety culture strategies with the HACCP Mentor community by leaving a comment below.



14 thoughts on “How to implement a strong food safety culture in your business”

  1. Amanda Verling

    I’m working for a start-up company, which allows me the unique opportunity to start from the ground up with Food Safety. I have found that hands on training and constant teamwork with other departments helps build a food safety culture.

    In other companies merely respecting another individuals department boundaries and coming up to their “fence” to ask for collaboration on a problem, really helped me get some food safety cultures established in places where it wasn’t before.

    However, it really depends on the company culture too. Some companies really aren’t interested in participating and they never will be.

  2. Seyitan Motunmori

    Everyone is accountable because everyone contributes to the success of building and sustaining a strong food safety culture.

  3. Very clearly laid out and explained. Committment and leadership support from the management, as the standard is key to the culture of a company.

  4. Hi Amanda, thanks for a great blog post!
    This follows on a lecture I attended last week at Michigan State University that was taught by Frank Yiannas, VP of Food Safety at WalMart. The lecture focused on how to create a food safety culture and how to drive food safety by influencing the behaviors of employees. It was refreshing to hear a food safety lecture that didn’t focus entirely on the hard sciences! Frank has two books out there right now that have proved incredibly useful to driving a good culture centered on food safety.
    You should check it out for next year!

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