A culture of food safety: good working atmosphere makes for safe products
Food safety is not only a question of strictly monitored processes—the company culture also plays an important role. This opinion is shared by legislators and certifying bodies, who now require attention to be paid to the food safety culture. That’s reason enough for Schouten to draw attention to this issue at all levels of the company.
Compliance & Regulatory Manager Laura van Tiel: “With our efforts to create a broadly supported culture of food safety, we confirm to our customers that we are committed to a reliable product and to protecting their reputation”.
What exactly does the term ‘food safety culture’ stand for? Van Tiel explains: “In organisations with a solid food safety culture, there is an atmosphere in which employees are aware of food safety and behave accordingly. Or to put it more succinctly: a safe and pleasant working atmosphere helps us to produce safe products”.
The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) first came up with the term food safety culture, which the BRC, IFS, and FSSC soon incorporated into their certification requirements. “And Europe has now included this term in European food legislation”.
More than core values
Schouten already had a set of core values that helped determine the company’s culture. But according to Van Tiel, the requirements of a food safety culture go much further. “Involvement by management, a clear strategy, and good communication about food safety throughout the entire company are essential”.
In a food safety culture, every person contributes to food safety – whether they work in the Quality department, the Purchasing department, or elsewhere. That’s why Schouten employees from all over the company are involved in the food safety sessions organised by the Quality and Management Operations department. “In small teams, we look at what is going well and what can be improved. The first sessions were used as a baseline. We monitor progress with the following ones”.
According to Van Tiel, it is important for the best practices to be shared. “Management is now drawing up a plan for communication between the departments. We share fun and interesting things on TV screens, for example, and we celebrate successes. We also publish a poster about the food safety culture within Schouten. It’s part of our on-boarding programme”.
Van Tiel is already enthusiastic about the implementation of the food safety culture. “Safety awareness is part and parcel of Schouten’s DNA. It’s nice that we can now take this extra step. We do this for ourselves, our customers, and the end users of our products”.