At a recent conference, I participated in a panel debate that discussed how the food sector can ensure it has the right skills to deliver its future needs.
Significant focus was on the need to engender a positive food safety culture in an organisation. While all food businesses have a food safety culture, the critical point is whether this is positive or not.
Analysing a company’s culture is not straightforward, but a number of tools are becoming available that focus on understanding employee behaviours, and how these combine with an organisation’s systems and processes. Having established a snapshot of the culture, the more difficult task is taking action to change that culture.
Right way of thinking and working
Ideally, all employees – at all levels through to senior management – need to live and breathe the right way of thinking and working.
And a company’s management is responsible for setting the right culture – leading by example, making sure systems and processes support it and, above all, ensuring people are motivated to behave in ways that achieve the desired outcome.
The Institute of Food Science & Technology is a professional body for all those working in technical roles in the food sector. It recognises that food safety is not just about systems – it’s about the professionalism of those working in the sector as well.
Register of Food Safety Professionals
To this end, it has developed a Register of Food Safety Professionals to recognise and support those in food safety roles. The emphasis here is on the word ‘professional’. Being a professional means working to a certain code of conduct.
It means belonging to a community of experienced, like-minded people. The register recognises food safety professionals at three levels, but if organisations at least ensure their leaders are professionally recognised, it will be an important step towards building a positive food safety culture.
Food Safety Conference: book now
Changes in regulation and future threats are the focus of Food Manufacture’s Food Safety Conference, which takes place in Birmingham this June.
Leading the line-up is Nina Purcell, director of Wales and local delivery at the Food Standards Agency, who will offer an update on the move to a new risk-based approach to inspecting food and drink businesses.
Other speakers include: Andy Morling, head of food crime at the National Food Crime Unit; Dawn Welham, president of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health; and Sue Davies, strategic policy adviser at Which?
Chaired by Campden BRI director general Professor Steven Walker, the conference will be held at etc.venues Maple House, Birmingham, on Thursday 21 June.