1. Management must take the lead – A strong food safety culture begins with the leaders of your organization setting a good example. It’s not enough to tell your employees the right way to do something, you have to actually do it. People will be more likely to follow the right procedures if they see their managers doing it the right way.
2. Hold people accountable – Everyone involved in preparing food should be held accountable for adhering to food safety rules. Do not tolerate anyone who refuses to follow the rules or acts careless when it comes to food safety. Correct the poor behavior as soon as it occurs so people don’t think they can get away with it.
3. Provide adequate training for your food handlers – Everyone in your organization must have regular food safety training. This will help them understand the why behind what they’re doing. Not everyone is a food science major going into the food industry. They need to be taught basic principles of food safety and good hygienic practices.
4. Reinforce your message – Remind people they’re not just manufacturing a product; they’re making food for people and families who have children. When I worked in food service, we were taught never to serve anything to our customers we wouldn’t serve to our own family. This created an emotional link that reminded us to pay attention to the safety and quality of the food we were serving.
5. Focus on changing behavior – As Frank Yiannis discusses in his book, “Food Safety Culture”, don’t just focus on the mechanics of the program; focus on the people. He writes that “at the end of the day, to improve the food safety of an organization, you have to change people’s behavior.” This will help change the culture and the mindset of the people so they are proactively thinking about food safety.