Training - the key to achieve a true food safety culture

Richard Werran, EMEA Regional Director Food & Retail Supply Chain, BSI comments on how resilient organizations must - invest and embed training not just to prevent product recalls, but to achieve excellence in their food safety culture.


Supposing you discover a labelling error or receive a retailer or enforcement agency notification due to an undeclared allergen, and have to withdraw or recall a product to protect consumer safety. It was a mistake, right? Yes, but the root cause may reveal a sub-optimal food safety culture. 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 food safety culture isn’t fully embedded throughout the entire organization. This could be the unknown weak point in your food safety and quality management system, compromising your product just as much as a foreign body or microbiological contamination would.


Richard Werran, EMEA Regional Director Food & Retail Supply Chain, 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 and legal food production process.


However, Werran goes on to say that only having HACCP training in place doesn’t go far enough to effectively protect your food business and enhance resilience.


“The margin for error has a wider scope. The leading food businesses are embracing culture, and expanding their strategic focus, using training both as a tool for improvement and competitive advantage.  These class leading food business operators are engaging their staff just as they cultivate their brand - with attention, protection and investment in innovation.


Werran states that for those food business operators, 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 prevalent, and a major component of food safety management systems, including ISO 22000 and FSSC 22000. Developing a strong food safety and quality culture is a major contributor to establishing food business resilience and this is where an investment in training people fits in.


Will these plans be enough to have a meaningful impact on food safety culture?


“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 leading businesses recognize to have a meaningful impact on performance, development and of course, culture. Your brand can only be as innovative and safe as your people,” says Kelly Mulholland, Food Sector Leader – BSI South Africa.


BSI provides training on various business improvement courses, allowing people to advance their skills set and their career.  More information on current online training programmes can be found on