CHICAGO — Food safety culture is one of the biggest drivers of change across the food industry. By definition, a mature and positive food safety culture consists of shared values, norms and beliefs that affect mindsets and behaviors toward food safety in, across and throughout the company. Leaders in mature and positive cultures demonstrate ownership and recognize food safety is integral to the consumer and the success of their company.
Every company has a food safety culture — good, bad or okay — but how do you work to improve when you might not know how to start?
The Alliance to Stop Foodborne Illness created an evolving food safety culture toolkit tailored for small and medium-sized food businesses to help companies mature their food safety cultures.
Because one more person impacted by foodborne illness is too many, the toolkit is offered for free to strengthen food safety behaviors that help prevent our friends, loved ones, and neighbors from getting sick.
This is a initiative between Stop Foodborne Illness (STOP) and members of the Alliance — which consists of industry-leading food safety practitioners from Fortune 500 companies and guided by Dr. Lone Jespersen, STOP board member.
The Alliance working group spent the last year creating this initial guide drawing on science, personal food safety culture experiences, and working with STOP constituent advocates negatively impacted by a foodborne illness.
The toolkit helps businesses create a strategy to improve their food safety culture. "This toolkit helps food companies shift from doing the bare minimum to avoid recalls to making good, holistic choices to protect overall public health," said Dr. Vanessa Coffman, Director of Alliance to Stop Foodborne Illness. "By sharing our Alliance members' best practices, smaller companies can now build a path toward improving their own food safety culture. This toolkit is not a checklist. It is a process of continual learning, a helpful guide in choosing tools most effective for your workforce."
Much like a food safety culture journey, the toolkit will evolve with additional resources, guides and how-to strategies. "We will continue to enhance this toolkit for as long as organizations continue to want to keep products and families safe from foodborne illness," said Coffman.