EU industry organization releases guidelines to strengthen food safety culture

FoodDrinkEurope (FDE), an organization representing European food and beverage manufacturers, has recently published a short guidance with case studies, recommendations, and tools to help Food Business Operators (FBOs) develp a robust food safety culture and implement it in their operations.    

Food safety culture refers to the shared attitudes, behaviors, values, and practices within a company that help create and maintain a safe food environment. It involves the actions of all employees, from management to frontline workers, the document noted.    

The FDE document outlines a 10-point plan developed by the Central Organization for the Meat Sector and the Dutch Meat Industry Association.    

The guidance also suggests using surveys with a set of indicators or statements related to each component to assess a company's food safety culture during an audit. Other methods include observing food safety practices and behaviors, asking for input from individuals within the organization, and assessing internal policies and procedures.    

The four case studies presented in the document focus on leadership commitment, employee involvement and tailored training, continuous improvement, and corrective actions.    

The release of this guidance comes after the food safety culture concept was introduced as a general principle in the Codex Standard on General Principles of Food Hygiene in 2020 and mentioned in food hygiene regulation by the European Commission in 2021.    

According to FDE, by prioritizing food safety culture, FBOs can reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses, cross-contamination, and food allergies, while increasing consumer trust and loyalty.