‘Embrace food safety culture to tackle foodborne illness’ warns top expert

embrace food safety cultureOne of the UK’s top food safety experts will warn a conference this autumn that businesses must embrace a positive food safety culture if they are to tackle the UK’s estimated half a million cases of foodborne illness each year.

Professor Chris Griffith, who is editor of the British Food Journal and one the world’s leading consultants on food safety, will tell delegates at the HABC National Conference on 13 November 2014 at Old Trafford Stadium that businesses have both a moral and financial imperative to produce safe food, but that this cannot be achieved without a positive food safety culture.

Since the Pennington report into the South Wales E. coli outbreak, food safety culture has jumped to prominence as the industry recognises that safety management systems in themselves do not necessarily lead to the production of safe food.

Speaking at the conference, Professor Griffith will explain how a management system must be accompanied by a positive food safety culture if it is to ensure food handlers follow correct practice. He will also explain how every business has a food safety culture, and that it is the function of owners and managers to ensure that this is positive towards food safety.

Other areas covered in his presentation will include the concepts and definitions of food safety culture and its increasing relevance to auditors and inspectors, an introduction to the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) approach to assessing food safety culture, and comparisons to other different approaches. There will also be an explanation of how businesses can construct a food safety culture improvement action plan.

Professor Griffith, who has recently authored a book on the subject – Developing and Maintaining a Positive Food Safety Culture – said, ‘For too long, food safety has been treated simply as a microbiological problem. However, there is now a growing recognition that there is a major human behavioural component.

When known food-safety practices are not followed it is all too all too easy to blame the individual food handler, yet the real underlying causes are often management failures. I know many managers who claim to be supportive of food safety and how it is their number one priority, but when I dig deep into the organisation’s culture I discover this is usually not the case.

Producing a positive food safety culture is easy to say but much more difficult for most businesses to prove. I hope by attending the conference and implementing the measures described, managers will be much better able to do this’.

Richard Sprenger, HABC Chairman and international food safety expert, said, ‘With the recent food safety stories in the media, it is becoming increasingly recognised that food safety culture is one of the most important factors in preventing foodborne illnesses, and it is something that inspectors, auditors and bodies such as the Food Standards Agency (FSA) are focussing on.

Professor Griffith is one of the leading experts in the world, and his presentation will be of huge interest to anyone in the food industry whether they are from a catering, manufacturing or retail background’.

As well as Professor Griffith, the food safety seminar at the HABC National Conference will also feature presentations from:

Notes to editors:
1. Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance (‘HABC’) is one of the UK’s leading Awarding Organisations for vocational qualifications.
2. The food safety seminar is one of seven that make up the HABC National Conference covering a number of sectors including apprenticeships, fire safety/health and safety, first aid, licensing, pool lifeguarding and security.
3. Cost per attendee is £135+VAT for HABC Approved Centres and £195+VAT for non-Centres, with discounts available for early and multiple bookings.
4. Developing and Maintaining a Positive Food Safety Culture by Professor Chris Griffith is available from Highfield.co.uk. For more information, see the website.

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