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Food safety governance – it’s not a QA role

Guest industry blog: by Dr Barry McGookin, General Manager Innovation, Capabilities and Skills, Food Innovation Australia Ltd. (FIAL)

Australia has a good track record and reputation for safe, quality food. This enviable position is underpinned by the strong regulatory framework at all levels of government. Delivery of good food safety practices is also assisted by compliance to industry quality standards, themselves based on the regulatory framework.  

While the strong framework for food safety in Australia is a fabulous base, it’s still up to businesses to implement and manage food safety systems day to day, product by product. Not unexpectedly a food business owner has a legal responsibility to protect their customers’ welfare, health and safety. In many cases the approach to food safety by food production companies is to develop a HACCP based food safety plan which is managed by those responsible for quality assurance. A good approach, but incomplete. Food safety is not just a process, it’s an attitude, a culture, a way of thinking and doing
In many businesses, work health and safety (WHS) is regularly top of the list when discussing the state of the business. Companies know that they have a legal and moral obligation to send employees home as healthy as when they came to work. As a result, WHS receives the attention it deserves. But how do food manufacturers view their role in providing safe food? When was the last time most companies had food safety on their management or board agenda, not only as a quality statistic, but as a key element and contributor to brand reputation and concern for public safety? What a difference it makes when the CEO joins all staff to do refresher training on food safety. That sends a message that food safety is important at all levels of a company.
The impact of a food poisoning incident can cost very large amounts of money and cause the closure of a business. Then there’s the loss of business from a lack of trust by customers and consumers, or ongoing brand reputation impact, something that can go on for years. These commercial challenges alone should mean food safety and food safety culture receives more airplay at senior management than it often does. It’s good business to have good food safety. It’s better business to have a healthy, positive food safety culture where everyone takes responsibility for keeping customers safe.
As with WHS, everyone in a food business has a duty of care to the safety and wellbeing of consumers. As Wayne Dyer said “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. Continuing to build on our capabilities by looking at food safety as a culture, a value an imperative is a lens that benefits us all.
To help build on Australia’s food safety credentials, and change the way companies look at things, Food Innovation Australia Ltd has partnered with the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology to create a Food Safety Governance for Directors workshop and governance guide.  The workshop looks at how and why companies should go beyond the legal obligations and embed food safety as “the way we do business” as it simply makes good business sense.
This virtual, interactive workshop is designed to provide you the essentials of good food safety governance. It will assist you in navigating the importance of food safety governance, and your responsibilities and role in assuring food safety performance. You will also gain new tools to monitor and verify food safety system performance. 
To register you interest in the next Food Safety Governance course please use the link below