Are You Ready for BRC Food Safety Issue 8 – food safety culture assessment?

February 8, 2019

Issue 8 of the BRC Food Safety Global Standard, which came into force 1st February 2019, introduces a new and important clause requiring all companies to:

“Define and maintain a clear plan for the development and continuing improvement of a food safety and quality culture.” This plan must include defined activities for all areas impacting product safety with an action plan on how this is undertaken and measured, and a timeline for implementation. This plan also needs to be reviewed to ensure effectiveness.

A food safety culture is the “shared values, beliefs and norms that affect the mindset and behaviour towards food safety in, across and throughout an organisation.”1

Culture is an instrumental factor in nurturing an organisation’s food safety compliance and is regulated by senior management, most of whom recognise its importance, but often overestimate the level of employee commitment and underestimate the resources needed to maintain it. In reality it cannot be a one-off initiative but requires ongoing commitment to foster a sustained proactive food safety culture.

How NSF Can Help You Address the Food Safety Culture Challenge

NSF have developed the food safety culture model which is a web-based application that allows you to undertake a food safety culture survey across your business. It provides comprehensive information to measure your food safety cultural maturity risk level on a risk-rated scale from 1-5.

There are four key areas to the model:

Strategic Leadership and Operational Structure

This framework embeds food safety, leadership championing of food safety compliance, proactive attitudes to food safety processes and the use of food safety reporting to support change to drive improvements.

Responsibility & Empowerment of Teams

This area ensures all employees appreciate their responsibilities, empowering them to participate in food safety initiatives and motivating team dynamics to facilitate food safety and recognition to promote compliance/best practices.

Company Vision, Norms and Effective Communication

This area embeds the importance of food safety in the organisational vision, fostering food safety norms and ensuring food safety is consistently and proactively implemented.

Competence Through Training, Appraisal, Development and Company Beliefs

This area includes effective well-resourced training programmes, promotion and evaluation of food safety through the company belief system with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.

How It Works

Our global network of experts have worked throughout the supply chain and with retailers, and understand how important it is to build a strong food safety culture within your organisation.

The output from the model allows your company to measure its food safety culture risk level by applying your company weighted average on the company risk-rating scale. There are five food safety risk levels ranging from a very negative attitude where there is little or no evidence of cultural leadership and reactive compliance, through neutral attitudes where food safety principles are in place, to Level 5 where there is a very positive attitude with proactive a food safety management culture. Once the food safety cultural risk rating is complete, the risk framework action levels provide guidance on the appropriate actions your company can take.