Timothy Ahn, LRQA
FST Soapbox

Tackling the “Why” of Food Safety

By Timothy Ahn
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Timothy Ahn, LRQA

An introduction to addressing food safety culture and establishing an effective FSMS within your organization.

Food safety training has traditionally focused on foundational topics such as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). While these topics are essential in defining and implementing Food Safety Prerequisite Programs, they define the What and How, but not the Why of Food Safety. In order to address the Why of Food Safety, training programs need to address food safety culture, and the role of a food safety management system in establishing that culture.

A session during the 2015 Food Safety Consortium Conference will discuss advancing food safety and harmonization through educating employees. | November 17-20, Schaumburg, IL| REGISTER NOWCreating a food safety culture needs to start at the top. It must be known that food safety is a top priority to upper management. In order for training programs to support a food safety culture, they need to be delivered in a format that enables employees to contribute to the organization’s business strategy and food safety objectives while simultaneously reinforcing employee skills, attitudes and behaviors. Studies have shown that during training, one should consider manufacturing as a whole—not bits and pieces—and that the correct and most effective approach to training should look at collective knowledge requirements rather than any single requirement. A good starting point is to understand how a well-planned management system can help bring focus on a holistic approach that transforms the culture. A company’s ability to adopt a culture of food safety is dependent on its ability to take a holistic approach to manage food safety risk and incorporate all components of a food safety culture.

The second area of focus is having an effective FSMS in place. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines a system as “a set of interrelated or interactive elements” and a management system as “a system to establish policy and objectives and to achieve these objectives.”  In order for the FSMS to thrive, management must commit to the FSMS being a required way of doing things throughout the whole organization.  A food management system is most effective when it benchmarked against a proven standard and independently verified. Having an effective FSMS in place provides a vote of confidence in your organization—a statement that your organization takes safety and quality seriously and has made the right moves to help protect your brand reputation and consumers by addressing the complexity of risks, up and down your supply chain, and assuring food safety and sustainability.

By following these pragmatic guidelines your organization can raise the level of food safety around the world by creating more effective food safety solutions not only for today, but also tomorrow.

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