The assessment of food safety culture: An investigation of current challenges, barriers and future opportunities within the food industry

2016-11-25T11:21:09Z (GMT) by Rounaq Nayak Patrick Waterson
Following the 2005 E.coli O157 outbreak in the UK and the recommendations in the subsequent Public Enquiry Report in 2009, the topic of food safety culture became more prominent. In 2012, the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) commissioned a tool that enforcement officers could use to assess ‘softer aspects’ of risk such as safety culture, attitudes and behaviours. In the present study, we assessed the awareness of and views on safety culture in the food industry among a group of industry stakeholders (Environmental Health Officers, Food and Beverage Managers, Academics). The study also examines their attitudes towards the toolkit and ways in which it could be improved (e.g., its usability). The conclusions of the paper are that whilst there is broad support for implementing safety culture in the food industry, there are also some outstanding challenges (e.g., defining food safety culture, senior management commitment and the role played by ‘micro-cultures’ within food organisations). Assessing safety culture in the food industry is a realistic possibility, but needs to take account of some of the lessons which could be learnt from other industries (e.g., healthcare, rail, oil and gas) and their experiences with safety culture.