Improving Food Safety with the new BRCGS Food Safety Culture Excellence Module

Dr. Thijs Willaert Food Safety & Hygiene

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 BRCGS Food Safety Culture Excellence Module provides manufacturers with insights into the culture of their organization. It is an assessment any organization can undertake – BRCGS certified or not.

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

The module 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.

How 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. 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.

The BRCGS Food Safety Culture Excellence Module: Here’s how it works

The process consists of the following steps:

  1. Preparation
    The assessment process starts with the registration of one or more sites. Once registered, the site contact(s) will receive a confirmation email including details of how to launch the assessment, including communications posters, implementation guidelines and response targets. They also receive the link to their assessment. Then the site is ready to go!
  2. Assessment
    Across the company, employees can complete the survey anonymously on computers, tablets or mobile phones. After selecting their preferred language, it takes around 15-20 minutes to complete. The site contact receives weekly progress updates so can see when they reach their minimum response targets; they can then request for the survey to be closed when they are happy with their uptake. Then the data is processed and the report is published.
  3. Reporting
    The assessment generates a lot of valuable data; this data is distilled into a PDF report which is uploaded to the BRCGS Directory after the assessment is complete. The report contains an overall score, plus scoring for 4 Categories and 20 Dimensions. It also provides benchmarking against industry and product category averages, as well as details of low and high scoring questions, and perceived barriers and positives of food safety culture. Sites can quickly identify areas of strength and opportunities for improvement.
  1. Improvement
    Once the site has received the report and reviewed their scores, they can identify next steps for driving improvement. The PDF report provides general guidance on how to take steps to address cultural improvement. Sites are also invited to join the Culture Excellence LinkedIn Group to view webinars and ask questions of the Culture Excellence team. It is recommended to repeat the assessment yearly to track the improvements achieved.

It is important to note that the findings of the additional module do not in any way affect the grade of the certification audit.

Further information is available here.

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