Training is the key to achieving a true food safety culture


Richard Werran, EMEA Food Director, BSI comments on how resilient organizations must not treat training simply as a box-ticking exercise if they want to avoid product recalls, and achieve excellence in their food safety culture.


When a FSA (Food Standards Agency) recall alert lands in your inbox, it’s very likely that a known but undeclared allergen or labelling error is in the content of the message. At root cause, this often comes down to a lack of food safety culture making its way throughout the organization. If the focus on food safety stops at the factory employees and doesn’t reach the areas where food packaging and labels are designed – for instance, with designers and marketers, then an organization’s food safety culture isn’t embedded throughout the entire production process.


Richard Werran, EMEA Food Director, BSI, agrees that traditional training programmes around compliance with technical clauses in Certification Standards, e.g. internal auditing, HACCP, VACCP and TACCP are clearly greatly important for those wishing to maintain a safe food production process.


However, Werran goes on to say that only having HACCP training in place isn’t enough to effectively protect your food business against threats of recall or withdrawal.


“The margin for error has a wider scope. The leading food businesses have started to realise this, and are beginning to expand their strategic focus, using training as a tool for improvement and competitive advantage, rather than a compliance box-ticking exercise.  These organizations are treating their people as they treat their brand - with attention, protection and investment in innovation.


Werran states that for those organizations, training has already moved beyond compliance to requirements in Standards.


“For example, BSI’s Lean Six Sigma course is attended by delegates from organizations that recognize the huge cost savings available to a lean production, overseen by a skilled staff member who knows the company culture inside out. The value of a well-trained employee who already knows an organization inside out is likely to be much more effective and bring more value to your investment.


Food safety culture

 The importance of adopting a food safety culture throughout a business is becoming ever more apparent, therefore the increased focus on this area in Issue 8 of the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety should come as no surprise to the sector’s leading manufacturers. Clause 1.1.2 explicitly focuses on the improvement of a food safety culture, stating that sites shall have a strategic plan for the development and continual improvement of a food safety culture. This includes evidence of an action plan indicating how the activities will be undertaken and intended timescales. It is anticipated that many food manufacturers will seek to satisfy this requirement with internal performance reviews or training plans.


However, will these plans be enough to have a meaningful impact on food safety culture?


Werran says that it will:

 “For the past year we trained more than 2300 delegates in South Africa. Our delegates register for our courses to gain a greater understanding of their role, and to improve their performance within an organization, helping to make their business more resilient.


“Training is an investment that businesses must recognize in order to have a meaningful impact on performance, development and company culture. Your brand can only be as innovative as your people, just as your food can only be as safe as your people.”


BSI regularly holds training on various business improvement courses, allowing people to advance their skills set and their career.  More information on the training programmes mentioned can be found on