How Does Food Safety Affect Your Team? | National Food Institute

How does food safety affect your team?

Key takeaways for establishing a food safety culture in your workplace

If you think food safety is the sole responsibility of the owner of an establishment, well, you’re wrong. 

These days, responsible food service venues and food processing facilities understand that every person in the chain holds responsibility for the outcome – whether that is food fit to eat, or foodborne illness. 

Sure, an owner can lay down the rules, but if they don’t walk their talk, they will not be an example for their workers to follow. 

If they aren’t open to hearing about the challenges workers are facing when it comes to food safety, and discussing solutions then little progress can be made. What is needed is a revolution in food safety – the development of an entire food safety culture. 

Why do we need a food safety culture?

In a study published in the Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal, it was estimated that in Australia in 2010, there were 4.1 million instances of foodborne illness, not to mention 30,840 hospitalisations, 76 deaths, and 5,140 non-gastrointestinal illnesses. 

Between the years 2000 and 2010, cases of salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis leaped in numbers, leading to multiple hospital visits, while Listeria monocytogenes and non-typical Salmonella spp. were responsible for the most deaths. 

Although these rates of infection are not increasing over time overall, they are still concerning for the high frequency at which they occur in Australia. This is the ultimate reason why we need a food safety culture – to save people’s lives. 

But there are other reasons, too 

There are idiosyncrasies of Australian culture that can be impediments to developing good food safety interventions, but ironically, these are some of the reasons why we need to develop a food safety culture so urgently. 

For example, a quirk of Australians is that we believe in egalitarianism, but we also tend to rely on top-down management styles, which often create a rift between the regulations and the people that need to put them into practice every day. 

Our ethos of ‘don’t buck the system’ or the tall poppy syndrome can get in the way of reporting issues with food safety in the workplace, with workers more likely to overreport positive instances and shy away from pointing out areas that need improvement.

No matter what position we might hold in the food industry, there is a temptation not to walk our talk, and there is a need for more open and honest conversations. 

Australians, in general, have a laid-back attitude and can be cynical about trying new things, which can belie the urgency of the circumstances at hand or the necessity of taking different actions. 

Staff members are usually more educated these days, so they may not take an order at face value, but want to know the whys and wherefores behind it. 

What is a food safety culture based on?

The Codex Alimentarius is a group of standards, guidelines, and codes of practice that have been adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. 

One of these codes of practice is the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system, which is one of the best-known methods for reducing the risk of foodborne illness in the world. 

Food safety culture is about finding ways to create an environment where food safety is seamlessly integrated into the working day. It is not an extra thing to think about, but a normal part of one’s duties, whether you are topline or frontline. 

Ideally, you work for a company that values food safety, allows you forums in which you can voice your questions, opinions, and observations about how food safety is or isn’t happening in your workplace. 

How does food safety affect your team?

Food safety affects everyone in an organisation, if that workplace really values this issue. 

Workers need to have sufficient training in food safety, but they also need to take on the personal responsibility necessary to enact their knowledge and make positive changes in their work environment. 

As the first port of call, if you are a manager, you have the option to walk your talk and show your real concern for issues relating to food safety in the workplace. 

This could include simply listening to your employee’s concerns regarding food safety, helping to problem solve, commending them on jobs well done, and making food safety a matter for everyone to be concerned with, from the person washing the floors to the person making the big decisions. Here at the National Food Institute, we ensure that you have the necessary tools and training required to prevent food safety incidents for your customers.

We take food safety seriously here at the National Food Institute

That’s why we offer several courses in Food Processing that cover various aspects of food safety. It’s really an issue that can make or break your business, and it’s so important to get it right for the sake of the people consuming your product. Contact our team today if you wish to find out more about food safety and our courses in Food Processing

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