Food Safety Culture Assessment


Conducting an assessment of existing food safety will highlight strengths and weaknesses.  There are number of different models an organisation can use to benchmark success. I am going talk about three assessment models that offer slightly different perspectives and measurements of success.


The Food Safety Culture Module


The food safety culture module is an assessment offered exclusively for BRC global standards certificated sites. employees and the auditor complete an assessment based on four key categories: people, process purpose and proactivity. Each category is broken down into four further dimensions. this assessment is carried out at the same time as the food safety audit. Grades are awarded following the assessment and range from A+  to C.


The Culture Assessment Model

Professor Chris Griffith offers another approach to culture assessment. He suggests five categories of assessment. These include food safety leadership standards, food safety communication, food safety commitment, food safety competence and training, and food safety environment. Questions in the assessment model ask similar questions but from two different perspectives: food handler and leadership and management. This challenges what leadership and management says to what happens in practice from the perspective of the food handler. These questions are supported by additional evidence for the answers given.


The NSF Maturity Model

The NSF maturity model defines five generations in assessing an existing food safety culture. The first generation states basic control has been achieved to meet legal compliance. The second generation builds on the first and states compliance with policies and procedures has been achieved. the third generations confirms management commitment and proactive strategies.  The fourth generation demonstrates full co-operation and commitment has been achieved at all levels. The final and fifth generation demonstrates employees engagement as employees instinctively take ownership for food safety matters.



Care must take in conducting questionnaires. They must not be too long, ambiguous or create difficult questions to answer. Questionnaires must provide an adequate range of responses. predetermined questions should be based on qualitative data collected from focus groups. These groups establish the issues to be addressed before conducting a large-scale questionnaire survey. A pilot study will provide an opportunity to review and make appropriate adjustments prior the main assessment.



Having conversations with participants will provide a rich narrative on what is happening in the real world. Conversations with participants will provide lived experiences of common themes identified in the survey.



A dedicated food safety culture audit will provide additional evidence to support the assessment of an existing culture.



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