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Improving Food Safety with the new BRC Food Safety Culture Module

Although the values and mindset of an organization play a key role towards its food safety performance, so far few food safety standards specifically focus on the food safety culture at a site and among staff. The new BRC Food Safety Culture Module is an optional addition to the annual food safety audit and provides manufacturers with insights into the culture of their organization.  As your preferred certification body for the BRC Global Standards, DQS will be happy to guide you through the process.

The Culture Excellence model is designed to make visible those aspects influencing food safety that are often overlooked, such as the psychological and behavioral aspects. Insights into staff attitudes, spoken values vs. underlying ones, unspoken rules and subtle communications will allow organizations to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses at the very human level, and to target solutions and resources accordingly.

The Food Safety Culture Module: People, Process, Purpose and Proactivity

The module, launched in September 2016, focuses on four dimensions of food safety culture: people, process, purpose and proactivity. Participating companies will be given an assessment report, with a rating system for each of these aspects:

  • People: This category analyzes the empowerment of staff, the rewards and incentives for correct food safety behavior, the level of teamwork at the site as well as the training practices of the organization.
  • Process: This section focuses on the effectiveness of managing and supervising staff in relation to food safety, the level of coordination between different departments, the consistency of working methods as well as the attitude towards food safety management processes.
  • Purpose: The focus here is on the vision, values, strategy and targets of the organization and the role food safety plays in them.
  • Proactivity: This section analyzes to what the extent the organization is aware of food safety related risks and has the foresight to manage them through, amongst others, learning and innovation.

Cover BRC Food Safety Culture ModuleHow the new module helps certified sites: Key Benefits

The main benefit of the new module is that it provides valuable insight into staff attitude and behavior related to food safety. It thus complements the existing BRC Food Safety certification audit with a behavior-based approach. The quantitative assessment report makes it easy to interpret the results, to compare between different sites and to drive continuous improvement.

Participating in the Food Safety Culture Module not only protects the reputation of your site because it reduces risks, sharing the results with clients and retailers may also give a boost to your business development. As the module was developed with the support of leading retailers, you can be sure that your participation will be valued by your customers.

Combining the Food Safety Culture Module with the BRC Certification Audit: Here’s how it works

As an approved certification body for the various BRC Global Standards, DQS will be happy to incorporate the Food Safety Culture Module into your annual certification audit. The process consists of the following steps:

  1. Register your interest on the BRC website (Link)
  2. Fill out the application form you will receive and submit it to DQS. We will add the module to your upcoming audit.
  3. You will receive all necessary information about the module as well as a survey questionnaire to be filled out by a percentage of staff
  4. As part of the regular audit, our auditor will complete the auditor questionnaire. The additional audit time amounts to only four hours. In exceptional cases it may be necessary to extend the duration.
  5. Based on the staff survey and the auditor questionnaire, an assessment report is generated and made available to you in the BRC Global Standard Directory
  6. If you wish, you make the assessment report available to retailers in the database. If you do not, the results are confidential and can only be seen by you.

Although the Food Safety Culture Module is added to the regular certification audit, it is important to note that the findings of the additional module do not in any way affect the grade of the certification audit.

On October 14, 2016, BRC will hold a free webinar to discuss the Food Safety Culture Module. Sign up for the webinar here.

DQS – Your Partner for Certification

DQS is your partner for BRC Global Standards certification. We schedule audits without hassle, rely exclusively on experienced auditors, create added value with intelligent audit reports and guide you through the entire certification process. Contact us to discuss your projects, or follow us on LinkedIn to receive regular updates on certification and food safety.

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About the Author

Dr. Thijs Willaert is Director of Marketing & Communication at DQS CFS GmbH

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