Ensuring consistent quality and food safety needs the cooperation of the entire organisation, which is no easy task. First of all, I think an organisation needs to be transparent and open; making sure people understand its aims, objectives, and targets, and also developing a cultural environment where people are open and willing to talk.
Another aspect is employee satisfaction. You can have the best systems in place, you can have the best processes in place, the best suppliers, but when your employees are unhappy in their work that presents a big risk. So I think employee satisfaction is very important and organisations should have systems and processes in place to measure that and improve it where necessary. The culture should be accepting of mistakes because nothing is a hundred percent. So make sure that people know that mistakes will be accepted and of course, you want to avoid mistakes, you want to prevent them, but the focus moves to corrective action and continuous improvement.
And that is the fourth thing - a culture of continuous improvement: making sure that there are processes in place and knowledge that everyone is working on continuous improvement. When something goes wrong make sure the organisation can do a good root cause analysis to find the cause of that mistake or that failure. And then based on that root cause analysis, have the right corrective actions in place. That’s a complex process where an organisation needs to invest and to make sure that people are trained and have the knowledge to do that.
And last but not least, good internal communication is critical. Top down and bottom up there should be a good communication process to ensure that everyone is aware if the organisation is going the right way, that they are doing the right things and to understand when they are doing things that aren’t so correct. To me, that is one of the most important things to have in place, and together these are the five elements that in my experience lead to a very high level of a food safety and quality culture in an organisation.
This excerpt is adapted from a new series of Food Safety podcasts with Cor, which you can download for free on iTunes. LRQA will be exhibiting on stand C4-5 at the 2016 Global Food Safety Conference in Berlin from the 29th February to 3rd March.