Food safety: what are the new challenges of the Food Safety Culture (FSC)?

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Food businesses have to comply with several hygiene regulations under European legislation. Most of these regulations are part of the "Hygiene Package", in particular Regulation 852/2004 on food hygiene. New obligations related to FSC have recently been included in the regulations, which represent additional challenges for the companies concerned.


The new EU Regulation 2021/382, published on 3rd March, amends Annexes I and II of Regulation 852/2004 on food hygiene. The "Food Safety Culture" (FSC) has been integrated into these obligations.

FSC is a long-term project that should be part of the strengthening of the corporate culture. This new regulation stipulates that the implementation of this requirement takes into account the nature and size of the company.

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What is FSC?

 

Food Safety Culture (FSC), according to the GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) report published in February 2019, is defined as:

"Shared values, beliefs and norms that affect mindset and behaviour toward food safety in, across and throughout an organisation."


The GFSI is a private organisation whose role is to harmonise the various private food safety standards. Following the publication of this report by the GFSI, several standards were aligned with this new concept of food safety: the BRC (British Global Standard) integrated it in its version 8, the IFS (International Featured Standard) in its version 7, as well as the FSSC 22000 standard in its version 5.1.


Food companies will therefore have to take into account the new FSC-related requirements imposed by these standards.

 

What are the objectives of the FSC?

Empowering all employees


The FSC aims to strengthen the food safety management system by influencing individual and collective behaviour in organisations. The aim of this approach is to make all employees as well as management aware of the principles of quality and health safety.

Indeed, management must be committed to the process, providing the means and resources necessary to meet the health safety objectives. The objective is to do everything possible to encourage the support of all staff so that risky behaviour and situations are clearly identified. Each employee will thus be able to contribute to obtaining safe and sanitary products.

 

Improving business performance


The FSC is primarily a means of embedding the food safety culture within the organisation. The aim is to ensure that the control measures implemented are effective, with the potential for the company to be audited at any time.

 

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How to enforce FSC principles through digital?

Developing communication and training

 

It is certainly not a question of creating another Rube Goldberg machine, spending time drafting new documents which will be mostly totally useless! It is about implementing communication/awareness actions for all employees on the importance of hygiene and food safety.

Dedicated software such as BlueKanGo allows a quick and efficient distribution of all documents within the company. Thanks to a dedicated portal, each employee can access, even remotely, the hygiene procedures relevant to them. A lookup/editing history is also integrated into the tool: via an electronic signature module, employees will be able to attest they have actually read the documents and validate them.

A dedicated solution makes it possible to carry out all the necessary training and to ensure their archiving in conjunction with the Human Resources (HR) department. It is possible to interface this type of tool with other HRIS software, for example, in order to retrieve the personal records of the company's various employees. Training certificates can thus be stored in the tool, as they are considered real evidence in the event of an audit.

 

Self-assessment of the maturity level of your organisation

 

It is in the interest of every organisation to self-assess against the FSC-related criteria imposed in private food standards (such as IFS v7 or BRC v8) to establish its level of maturity towards FSC. It may be interesting to use a dedicated tool, on the one hand to self-assess and on the other hand to access the history of previous assessments. For the planning of these assessments, you can define several parameters such as the planned date, the department/pilot concerned... And thanks to the automatic alerts, the pilot(s) concerned can be automatically notified by e-mail of the setting up of a new assessment.



Similarly, self-assessments can be monitored in digital format: date of the last and next assessment; associated evidence; related indicators; maturity level achieved; planned actions, etc... All these elements can be consulted on your digital forms!

 

Set up automatic dashboards


Relying on a dedicated digital tool means that you can perform an automatic statistical analysis of your self-assessments. For this purpose, it may be useful to develop indicator management charts based on the five dimensions of food safety culture.

The toolkit developed by the GFSI presents these five dimensions (see diagram below), with the corresponding sub-criteria. Thus, for each of the GFSI dimensions, several indicators will be considered in line with the FSC principles. These dashboards are updated automatically by the solution: the management and the entire management are informed in real time of the situation.

 



Suggest areas of improvement and a dedicated action plan

 

Once the self-assessments have been carried out and the steering tables updated, it will be a matter of implementing dedicated actions. A digital tool has the benefit of being able to correlate the different applications. For example, if you launch an action directly from an assessment element or one of the five dimensions of the GFSI, it will be implemented automatically in the Global Action Plan. No more retranscription work! And if you wish, you can display only FSC-related actions directly from the tool.

Thus, new FSC requirements must now be integrated into the corporate culture in the food sector. There are dedicated tools to support management and all employees in the process.

 

To go further:

> Meet new FSC requirements with the BlueKanGo platform

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