How to Improve Food Safety Culture

Feb 11, 2020 7:52:56 AM | Samu Häkkinen

How to Improve Food Safety Culture

7 Minutes Read

There’s been quite some talk about food safety culture going on recently in food industry media and discussion groups. So this time we’ll also look at food safety culture, and particularly how digitalization can support it’s success in food businesses.

First of all, if you don’t know what food safety culture means, it’s basically just the idea that in food production, processing and any kind of handling and cooking, everyone involved should always be committed to safeguarding food safety. And so much so, that making sure food safety is preserved should become internalized and automatic.

But sometimes it can be a struggle to make sure food safety is top of mind for all your staff.

There’s so much going on in any given kitchen all the time: people are in a rush, shifts are changing, deliveries are arriving…  

And it’s not just that the situation is hectic. There’s change in the staff, too. And training new people and making sure they understand the importance of and the processes of food safety in your kitchen premises and in customer-facing spaces can take up a lot of time and effort. 

With all this going on, instilling a culture of food safety into everything your staff does can seem a daunting task.

How do you make sure that food safety, hygiene, correct food handling and all the other sometimes tedious but highly important parts of your food safety process keep getting done correctly and at the right time?

Let’s take a look at a few effective ways to improve food safety culture in your business.

1.      Make it Easy

Improving food safety culture can be most easily started by making sure that your food safety process is as uncomplicated as possible. Because you know how people are – they like to do things the easy way. So, making food safety easy is absolutely a great first step.

But where to start?

Automating whatever you easily can is a great place to begin. And your food safety management system is bound to be filled with monitoring tasks that don’t need a person to do the checking. Tasks like checking the temperatures of:

  • Stores
  • Cold rooms
  • Fridges
  • Freezers/Coolers
  • Cold counters
  • Holding cabinets
  • Ovens
  • Washing machines

Going through all of these daily or weekly can get very tedious very fast, besides of just taking up staff work time. And that time is very likely the most valuable resource you have.

Substituting all these endlessly repeating checks with smart sensors installed in the equipment will save staff time and leave them better prepared to address those food safety hazards that can’t be eliminated with pure automation alone.

 

2.      Nurture and Guide

Too often managing your staff’s performance in their food safety activities can take the route of minute supervision and micromanagement. Effective in the short term? Perhaps.

But this kind of approach leaves little room for a real food safety culture to emerge. It can also affect workplace atmosphere if the staff feels they are not trusted to perform their jobs.

Another thing about food safety culture is that it grows best if you nurture it.

Basically, that means offering guidance and support until food safety gets internalized.

This kind of approach is supported perfectly by digitalizing those food safety activities that can’t be automated completely. A digital food safety and quality management platform offers just the kind of support that a real food safety culture needs to thrive.

Tangibly this could mean setting up a digital solution which schedules and then guides your staff in their food safety activities for daily, weekly, monthly etc. performance.

So, in essence it’s the same checklists that the staff would follow anyway, but now on a smart device that alerts when certain tasks need to be performed and offers guidance for how to correctly perform them.

This means you are automating much of the guidance, giving your staff room to excel, but supporting them in an inconspicuous way when they need it.

And you also gain the oversight you need to have over your staff performance, just without the impression of breathing down anyone’s neck.

This will lead to a more relaxed atmosphere in the workplace, but also makes sure your food safety system itself doesn’t relax!

3.      Create a Virtuous Cycle

But food safety culture is not only about your staff performing well. Yes, their performance is integral, but in a real food safety culture there is also a tendency to want to improve. And here we come to the manager level.

And this too is absolutely a priority. As a manager and a leader in the food safety process in your organization, you have a great deal of influence. But if you’ve already completed the previous steps discussed above, your staff has the best tools to make food safety easy, and the support and guidance you also have got covered. So, what now is there left to do?

The answer is…

Finding ways to turn your food safety program into a perpetual improvement machine!

This means you improve the food safety process, which makes your staff improve their performance, which again allows you to improve the process, etc. etc.

You know, all that stuff that would’ve been pretty difficult when all you had to work with was a mountain of paper.

Sure, you could dig through the data, even enter it into a spreadsheet, and you might find something that could be improved. But the time it would’ve taken to do this would’ve been ridiculous.

With a digital solution for handling food safety and quality management, this digging through the data is made a lot easier. So now it’s easy to identifying things like:

  • Upcoming problems like equipment failures
  • Repeated problems with certain suppliers
  • Over/underproduction and waste locations
  • All the other things an easily completed root cause analysis can bring to light

But your improvement potential isn’t just about weeding out the bad practices or errors. It’s about promoting the good ones, too! And digital solutions thrive on facilitating better communication, which is absolutely integral for disseminating good practices and the mindset that goes with them.

With this kind of communication that prevents problems and promotes excellence, you have much better chance of sustaining your food safety culture in the long run.

Concretely it means you can offer higher quality, even better food safety, and doing both more efficiently!

Just do it

We’re not saying a digital food safety management system is the only way of achieving a working food safety culture, of course. There are many ways of approaching the subject, and digitalization is only one of them. We do feel it is one of the better ones, however, and can offer some quite hefty efficiency benefits even at the very beginning of the process of nurturing food safety culture in your business.

Still, however you choose to go at it, building your operation with a healthy culture for ensuring food safety in mind is something we would absolutely encourage you to do. With the global situation regarding food waste amounts, foodborne illnesses and general regulatory changes being what it is, making sure your food safety management is working well should be a priority for everyone handling, producing and selling food.

If you think you’d like to hear more about our particular way of helping you achieve that with an easy digital solution, leave us a message!

We’d be happy to talk to you and see if there’s anything we can do to help you with improving your food safety and quality processes and nurturing them into a healthy food safety culture!

Themes: Temperature Monitoring, HACCP, Food safety, Digitalization

       
Samu Häkkinen
Samu Häkkinen

Content Specialist

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