EU legislation to include food safety culture

The European Commission’s draft legislation includes general requirements on food safety culture. Central to any company’s day-to-day operations, getting this right is essential to support all business activities.

The revision of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 on food hygiene introduces considerations on food safety culture while also covering allergen management, and redistribution of food.  

The Codex Alimentarius Commission is expected to adopt a revision of its standard on General Principles of Food Hygiene in the next few months. This update introduces the food safety culture concept as a general principle. Food safety culture’s aim is to increase awareness and improve the behavior of employees in establishments.  

Moreover, all GFSI benchmarked food safety standards must include requirements on food safety culture. Requirements relate to communication about food safety policies and responsibilities, training, employee feedback on food safety related issues and performance measurement, as well as senior management commitment. 

“This confirms that food safety culture is rising on the agenda. A sound food safety culture can drive considerable progress, but to succeed it must build on a true commitment by the organization and top management. Are the right decisions allowed to be made to keep food and consumers safe?  Food safety culture has to be ingrained in the company, not something added on top only to meet a legal requirement,” says Joy Laing, Global Food & Beverage Director, DNV GL-Business Assurance.  

Part of the new legislation asks management and all employees of businesses to commit to an appropriate food safety culture which includes a clear distribution of responsibilities, appropriate training, and supervision, and verifying controls are performed timely and efficiently and documentation is up to date.  

“Building an effective food safety culture is different to implementing a food safety management system,” says Joy Laing. “Focusing on people’s behavior requires involvement of HR professionals and behavioral experts, for example. It is not a technical requirement and must be approached as such. Companies truly embracing this change will benefit.”