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Understanding and valuing the importance of food safety is easy for managers of food processing facilities. The hard part? Getting employees in food processing facilities to adopt those same values. It is important to educate your team on how to maintain food safety standards. However, educating them is typically the easiest part. Getting employees to truly care about food safety can sometimes be tricky. One of the most successful ways for getting your team to understand and value food safety is by implementing a positive food safety culture.

Food processing facilities that are focusing on creating positive food safety cultures within their teams find that their employees are happier and value food safety more than ever before. Which leads us to ask ourselves...what is the real meaning of food safety culture and why it is so incredibly important? In this blog you'll learn what food safety culture is and 5 tips for implementation from experts in food safety culture.

What Is Food Safety Culture?

There are many definitions for what Food Safety Culture can look like. The masters of food safety over at Navitas Safety help simplify this definition in their blog, 6 Ways To Create a Positive Food Safety Culture.

"Food Safety Culture is all about how an organization values their food safety. It’s super important that the values are shared by management and employees alike. An organization with a strong positive food safety culture demonstrates to its employees and customers that making safe food is an important commitment." (Gerard Burden, Navitas Safety).

We couldn't agree more! Valuing Food Safety is the foundation of Food Safety Culture, but if these values aren't shared by the entire team then the Food Safety Culture is compromised. Just as the experts over at Navitas Safety explain, in order to have a positive food safety culture, managers and leaders in food processing facilities must go beyond providing their employees with basic food safety training. In order to create a truly positive food safety culture, managers must help employees develop similar values in regard to food safety while proving to customers that those values are being carefully carried out throughout each and every process.

The Benefits of Improving & Prioritizing Food Safety

By prioritizing food safety in your food processing facility you can improve your brand value, increase levels of performance, and even gain a competitive advantage. There are many benefits to food safety, especially for businesses of all sorts of sizes! A recent study from BRCGS revealed that "60% of consumers increase[d] focus on food safety post-COVID". (BRCGS). Consumers are getting smarter about food safety and in order for businesses to establish brand confidence with these types of consumers, food safety must be a top priority.

How Can Food Safety Be Improved?

A great way to continuously improve food safety is through establishing a positive food safety culture. There are many different techniques businesses can use to help implement and maintain a healthy food safety culture. We've compiled a list of the top 5 tips for implementing a positive food safety culture. These tips come directly from experts in food safety!


Experts Share 5 Ways To Implement A Positive Food Safety Culture


Tip #1: "Model an Upstream Food Safety Cultural Framework" (International Food Safety & Quality Network, 2021)

A goal without a plan is just a dream. This couldn't relate more to food safety! The first step to creating a positive food safety culture is to build a solid foundation in regards to the structure, organization, and implementation plan for food safety compliance. The International Food Safety & Quality Network recommends creating an organizational structure that will help aid in managing your organizational resources. An organizational structure will help you define your vision for food safety compliance while allowing you to check in, accomplish, and redefine your food safety goals continuously. Having a defined plan set in motion will allow you to efficiently meet and exceed food safety requirements. As mentioned in the article "Uncovering the Strategies to Establish Food Safety Culture in Food Service Facilities" written by Simon from the International Food Safety & Quality Network; by having detailed documentation that outlines all processes, instructions, procedures, and reports that are required to ensure food safety, you will be setting yourself up for success. This organizational structure will help to keep you accountable and will enable you to set a good example for your employees. This will help keep them educated, informed, and safety-focused.

The Biggest Determent To Food Safety Culture: Employee's Fear Of Failure

Another aspect of modeling good food safety practices to employees involves failure. Failure is a natural part of life. Ignoring the possibility of failure will teach employees to fear it. This works against your food safety culture because it creates an environment where facility workers are afraid to come forward to report food safety incidents, such as contamination, out of fear they will be written up or fired. Employees should feel comfortable coming to facility managers with any concerns, especially when related to health & safety. For example, if they think there has been possible contamination in the production line, employees shouldn't be fearful that they will be blamed for the contamination. Employees in food processing facilities know that if contamination is spotted, the production line will be shut down to investigate and resolve the issue. This can leave facility workers afraid to come forward out of fear they will be written up or fired. Especially if they think they caused the contamination. Although shutting down production and disposing of the contaminated batch results in a loss. Having a contaminated batch of product leave the facility will result in a much larger and far more expensive problem.
"Food service leaders must develop a competency model by determining factors that contribute to food safety failures through efficient root cause analysis, identifying key processes and team members, and establishing clearly defined reporting structures. This will help in laying the groundwork for effective food safety leadership and communication." (International Food Safety & Quality Network, 2021).
It's ALWAYS better to catch contamination BEFORE the contaminated product leaves the facility. Create a safe space for your employees to report contamination or any incident regarding food safety for that matter, by establishing clearly defined reporting structures. This is an important aspect of creating a positive food safety culture. This expert's blog suggests implementing a reward system that helps to encourage employees to consistently practice safe food handling behaviors. This is a great way to create a positive food safety culture since it rewards the employees for prioritizing food safety, as opposed to reprimanding them for mistakes. With that being said, mistakes are bound to happen and when they do, it is important for managers in food processing facilities to determine what caused the incident and how it could've been prevented in order to reduce the risk of it occurring in the future.

How To Find The Root Cause Of Contamination

A great way of getting to the root of what caused a food safety incident, such as a gear lubricant contamination, for instance, is through speaking to employees directly. Employees hold the key to finding the root of the incident. When a contamination happens, interview employees that were in the area where the incident occurred. Ask them if there was someone away that day, if a different person was working someone else's shift, if there was a visitor in the area, and/or if there was anything unusual or different during the estimated time of the incident.

How to Standardize Your Facility's Procedures

The last aspect of creating a strong framework for modeling a positive food safety culture is by standardizing procedures. Automated procedures will help reduce human error and reduce the possibility of food safety issues occurring. For instance, lubricating your food processing equipment with automatic lubrication methods is a great way to reduce equipment downtime and prevent human error. Click here to read 5 benefits to automatic lubrication methods.


Tip #2: "Provide Ongoing Food Safety Training For All Staff" (FSR Magazine, 2017).


When it comes to baking safe & fostering a positive food safety culture, ongoing employee training is key. In order to get employees in food processing facilities to understand and uphold safety procedures, managers must explain the importance of why these strict rules and regimes are followed. However, training should not be given with a one-and-done mindset. Employees in food processing facilities should receive reoccurring training and guidance on food safety standards and procedures. Just as you should be regularly checking in on how you are maintaining food handling and storage procedures, food facility managers should check in with employees and ensure that they are still upholding safety procedures as tightly as the day they first started.

Take it from the experts over at
FSR Magazine!

''Food safety training and education should be an ongoing effort. Train new employees immediately and emphasize why food safety is—and will continue to be—a huge priority for your organization. Provide continuous updates and refresher courses for all staff to keep the food safety “rules” top-of-mind." (FSR Magazine, 2017).

Without proper training and guidance, a positive food safety culture does cannot exist. The first step to getting employees to continually value food safety starts with you!


Tip #3: "Use Record-Keeping To Ensure That Food Safety Culture Is Well Documented And Data Driven" (Food Safety Tech, 2015).

Keeping your facility's records organized is essential to a positive food safety culture. Without an organized system, you will likely lose track of when you last trained employees on food safety, when you last received an updated SDS, and more. These are essential documents to keep updated in the event of an audit. All food processing facility managers dread SQF, BRC, and GFSI audits. Tracking down those piles of old files seems like a mission for mission impossible himself. However, having a clean, organized space for your records will make audits a breeze and will set a positive example for other employees in your facility. Sounds easy right? Well, if it were, record-keeping wouldn't be a daunting task for so many of us in the industry.

Take tips from the experts over at
Food Safety Tech!

"Collect the data that is measurable and non-subjective to help drive continuous improvement. If you collect it, you must do something with it. Good documentation is imperative to prove you did what you said you were going to do, especially in the event of an audit. Be stringent in training, and review all documentation before it hits the file cabinet to ensure it is accurate and appropriate." (Food Safety Tech, 2015).

We couldn't have said it any better ourselves!


Tip #4: "Make [Food Safety Culture] Part Of The Mission" (Quality Assurance & Food Safety, 2021).

Make food safety a part of each individual's mission. The experts over at Quality Assurance & Food Safety know that food safety isn't a one-size-fits-all concept. This theory is much more complex than that. Given the varying roles of each of the members within many departments at a food facility, it is recommended that Food Safety Culture be broken down in ways that are unique to each individual employee.
"While the practical processes and implementations are handled by a company’s food safety team, the idea of food safety doesn’t have to rest on their shoulders alone. “While food safety doesn’t need to be mentioned in the vision and mission statements themselves, its importance should be reflected in all of the company’s communications including its website and corporate annual reports,” said Marie-Claude Quentin, senior technical manager at GFSI. “It should also be key to internal communications which should occur regularly, be tailored to the organization’s various audiences and should be measured for effectiveness.” Some ways to do this might include posters, meetings, briefings or even competitions, awards and recognition." (Quality Assurance & Food Safety, 2021).

Tip #5: "Conduct Food Safety Culture Assessments" (Canadian Institute of Food Safety, 2019).

So you've been implementing ways to foster a positive food safety culture....now what? Well, without measuring your progress there is no way of knowing if your changes have been effective. It's time to conduct a food safety culture assessment!

The experts over at the Canadian Institute of Food Safety have great tips for how you can measure your success with your food safety culture journey.

"Some examples of what and how you can measure are: observing employee behavior when following standard procedures, reviewing health inspection reports, evaluating the frequency of customer complaints and how they were resolved, and assessing employee understanding of food safety goals and priorities of the company." (
Canadian Institute Of Food Safety
, 2019).

The Role Of H1 Lubricant

You've read tips from the experts in Food Safety Culture, now it's time to learn about an aspect of food safety you may have not considered until now. Safe industrial lubricant practices. That's where we come in! Here at Chain Guard, we are experts in providing high-quality, premium food grade lubricants for an array of applications. Our mission is to help food processing facilities keep chains moving and #BakeSafe by using
NSF Approved H1 Food Grade Lubricant.

You might be asking yourself...how does food grade lubricant relate to food safety culture?! It is more important than you think. Take it from the experts over at
Plant Engineering.

“The need to focus on food safety now is growing. Lubricants used in production processes offer the possibility of cross contamination into food. The growing concern for food-safe lubricants raises questions about whether food safety regulations and standards also apply to food grade lubricants and how food manufacturers meet operational requirements without introducing new chemical hazards.” (Plant Engineering, 2021).
Food grade lubricant is often overlooked when discussing Food Safety Culture, but it is as critical as ever to ensure the product your facility is producing is safe for consumption. Ensure that all staff working on the production lines and/or help to maintain your facility's equipment are thoroughly trained on the importance of food grade lubricant and know the correct procedures when it comes to safe lubricant handling and storage.

Click Here To The Top 7 Tips for BRC Compliance on Safe Lubricant Handling and Storage in Food Facilities.


"Food Safety Culture Starts With You" (The Consumer Goods Forum - GFSi, 2021).

The consensus among all experts included in the blog is that food safety begins with the ones enforcing food safety standards. It is up to us as managers to continually look for ways to train, motivate and lead the employees in our food processing facilities to success in food safety.
"Even a simple, personal interaction can be the best way to connect. Leaders who do a walk-around, have an open-door policy, or sponsor “open talks” enforce a thriving culture." (GFSi, 2021).
The most detrimental aspect of fostering a positive food safety culture does not involve the employees, but rather the managers whose values must be deeply rooted in food safety culture themselves. Let's work together to #BakeSafe and make the food processing industry safer than ever before.

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