How Does Your Company’s Food Safety Culture Measure Up Today?

Food & Beverage
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Following the rollout of the BRCGS Issue 8 Standard in February 2019, manufacturers are increasingly aware of the need for a strong food safety culture and looking for ways to improve it throughout their respective organizations. As they continue to build on their commitment to a collective food safety mindset with open communications, regular assessments and the use of more sophisticated safety tools, manufacturers can use advanced inspection technologies that not only prevent potential hazards from posting safety problems but signal to employees and to customers that preventive, verifiable measures are in place. 

This month marks a year since the implementation of the BRCGS Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 8. Among other requirements, the new Standard mandated organizations to demonstrate a company-wide commitment to a strong food safety culture as part of their overall framework for managing product safety and integrity. The goal of the new Issue 8 Standard – the largest global GFSI manufacturing scheme – was to shift food safety approaches from assumptions, entrenched ways of doing things and siloed efforts to a more comprehensive, cohesive mindset spanning all roles within a company.

A year later, is food safety truly a way of life at your organization? Are you able to prove it during internal and third-party audits? Here are some things to consider as you evaluate your company’s food safety culture:

Collective safety mindset

By now, senior management should be taking the lead in fostering an all-encompassing culture of food safety that’s evident within your organization. In addition, food safety should be “owned” by employees at every level within the company, as they follow visible, easily communicated food safety plans, programs, protocols and procedures.

As part of a company-wide commitment to food safety efforts, organizations should keep abreast of the latest BRCGS Standards and news. For example, the new BRCGS Plant Based Standard was published last month on Jan. 1.

Open communication

BRCGS Issue 8 underscores the importance of trust between employees and management and calls for honest, important feedback and insights to be received through open communications. As part of this communication on the one-year mark of the Standard implementations, a company can survey its employees to check attitudes about the current culture of food safety, gauge progress in following that culture and welcome suggestions to enhance it.  

Regular assessments

Assessments of food safety strategies and measures are core to a company’s food safety culture. Internal audits were expected in the first year of implementation and will continue to be going forward. As part of the four suggested yearly audits, manufacturers need to evaluate and address their HACCP or other food safety plans, prerequisite programs, food defense/food fraud prevention plans and procedures implemented to achieve the Standard.

Manufacturers should keep in mind that sites were expected to develop a plan of action to improve food safety cultures during their first audit in 2019. During their second audit in 2020, they are required to show that they have verified the effectiveness of the food safety culture actions taken thus far.

Advanced food safety tools and measures

After an initial evaluation of the strength of its food safety strategies and tools, a manufacturer may have deployed new tools such as x-ray machines to ensure the safety and quality of its products. Such tools simultaneously provide a visible demonstration on the line of its commitment to food safety. Going forward, manufacturers can add x-ray capabilities or other tools and continue training and support by x-ray experts.

Eagle Product Inspection continues to improve its own technologies, spanning the design and construction of its x-ray systems to the powerful software that drives it. Equipping manufacturers with the most advanced tools helps them adhere to standards designed to improve general food safety and quality.

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