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Global Food Safety Conference 2016 1/2016 eFOOD-Lab international 35 • Processing problems • Human errors • Handling and preparation mistakes • Food safety knowledge gaps • Food safety culture It is apparent that there is a definite need for a more coordinated approach across the whole food supply chain. Global Foodborne Disease Figures Dr. Angelika Tritscher, Head of Risk Assessment and Management, WHO, built on the stark facts of the introduction and opened her presentation with data and figures extracted from the WHO’s global foodborne disease report. Every year, foodborne disease outbreaks, from all sources, cause: • 33 million healthy life years to be lost • 1 in 10 people to fall ill • 420,000 deaths These numbers, startling as they are, also hide disparities between age groups and rich and poor areas. For example, children under five years of age make up only 9% of the global population, yet they suffer 38% of foodborne illnesses. Diarrheal diseases account for more than half the disease burden, and non-typhoidal Salmonella causes the most deaths. Food service, said Dr. Tritscher, can help prevent this. She also introduced the audience to the WHOs Five Keys to Safer Food a set of simple, logical actions that need to be consistently adhered to by everyone involved in the food service industry. Barriers and Drivers Exploring the human factors that hinder and drive food safety in the hospitality sector, Mr. Muhammad Ihsanullah, Director of Food Safety & EHS, Rotana Hotel Group, told the audience that no one issue is at the root of food safety failures, but a combination of factors. In its majority, the food service industry relies on compliance behaviors, the personal actions that must be carried out by each individual consistently. However, in a truly international industry, businesses and organizations face a raft of barriers, such as employees: • Cultural background • Upbringing • Misconceptions • Traditions Drawing on real-life examples, Mr. Ihsanullah explained that cultural norms do not always translate into compliance with food safety regulations. For example, in some countries, it is not common practice to use thermometers in cooking, or refrigerators. Employee education and mentoring, not just training, are key to success, in combination with supervision, leadership, motivation and employee engagement. Food safety is the responsibility of everyone in a food service environment, and it must be ingrained into business practices. Food Safety Culture With extensive experience in the food service industry, Dr. Joanne Taylor, Training and Research Director, Taylor Shannon International, helped the audience improve their understanding of what the term “food safety culture” really means, and how it impacts an organization. Failure to understand and consider organizational culture can badly impact a company, explained Dr. Taylor. In the food service sector, a good food safety culture is essential to the success of a business, and it’s about more than just having good systems. Once implemented, a food safety and/or quality system must also be consistently applied. A successful organizational culture is built on four pillars: • People • Processes • Purpose • Proactivity The people pillar touches on some of the issues raised by Mr. Ihsanullah, such as employee empowerment, training and communication as well as reward and teamwork. Processes looks at how people and the processes they follow are managed, whether departments are working together to a shared objective, and if systems are effective or a burden. In the purpose pillar, a successful food safety culture should communicate food safety to everyone, be promoted as a core value with improvements being seen on the ground in employees’ objectives and everyday activities. Proactivity relates to a wider understanding of the external environment, such as suppliers and customers, having risk foresight, being able to identify risks, then effectively assess and manage them, learning from past mistakes and effectively communicating improvements and best practices across the business. Lively Discussions Following the presentations, participants joined lively discussions on the key barriers and drivers to compliance behaviors within a food service establishment, and how a food safety culture can build on the foundations of established food safety management systems to improve performance in the food service industry. A food safety compliance culture needs to take into account the emotional, intellectual, intelligence and cultural backgrounds and traditions of the people involved. On that basis, an educational/mentoring program needs to be put in place that focuses on an individual’s development and career progression path within an organisation. Clear and consistent definition of roles, responsibilities, accountabilities, expectations and priorities, across all levels of employees within an organisation, is a key to operational efficiency. An organisation needs to have a clear food safety vision and this needs to be part of its core values. However, having vision is not enough. A strategy needs to be put in place to ensure that the direction the organisation is taking, in terms of food safety, reflects its vision and that it is continuously and consistently implemented by embedding it into the routines and daily objectives of staff at all levels. Top management commitment and involvement is crucial to achieve this. Irrespective of the environment, from a manufacturing site to a public kitchen, food safety compliance is a shared responsibility. About SGS SGS is a leading independent third-party service provider offering efficient solutions to help safeguard quality, safety and sustainability throughout all stages of the global food supply chain. SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company and recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 85,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,800 offices and laboratories around the world.


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