6 barriers to a positive food safety culture in the kitchen

Checkit Work Management

There are a number of factors that can stop a business from creating a positive food safety culture, and with 500,000 new cases of food poisoning reported to the FSA each year, it is clear that many operators still find this area a challenge. Food safety monitoring specialist Checkit’s top six issues that might be stopping operators from getting it right.  

1. Too much focus on revenue

Obviously revenue is a crucial part of any business, so it’s difficult not to become obsessed by it. But doing so often leads to a loss of focus in other areas such as food safety. Fixating on revenue is a passive, reactive position. Building a culture of food safety is a progressive way to enhance your business, which in turn has the potential to have a welcome impact on your bottom line.

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2. Lack of leadership

The implementation of food safety protocols is almost entirely dependent on how well they are communicated to staff and that starts right at the top of the chain. We ran a poll in our webinar asking people who they thought was the main driving factor behind a company’s food safety culture. Unsurprisingly, senior management came top. Telling employees what to do isn’t enough. Your team has to understand why it’s important too.

3. Manual processes are too cumbersome for staff

HACCP safety checks are often seen as a hassle. They take too much time to complete and are impractical when staff are at their busiest. This breeds a culture of contempt for food safety that can spread throughout the entire business.

4. Paper-based records are easy for people to falsify

Most food safety measurement systems are paper-based and, as such, they are easy to falsify. The fact that there’s even an opportunity to fill in safety sheets ahead of time, after the fact or to complete them with incorrect data invites the temptation to do so. Another shortcoming with paper-based documentation is that it takes a long time for safety managers to check and review — a problem that’s magnified if your business is spread across multiple sites.

5. High staff turnover

Whether it’s the warehouse, the production line or the restaurant, there’s a lot of staff turnover in the food industry. Employees leave and change jobs frequently. Management who already struggle to find time to train staff on food safety see themselves as fighting a losing battle. No sooner is a group of staff trained up than half of them have left and a whole new group needs to be shown the ropes.

6. Inconsistent audits

There’s a quiet anger among some in the industry regarding the inconsistency of food safety audits. When they are completed too infrequently, there’s less motivation to be audit-ready. And when they are judged using criteria that changes from one visit to the next, it is difficult for a business to show it’s making the effort to improve. Both lead to decreased engagement with food safety.

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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