How to Enhance the Food Safety Culture at Your Establishment (2022)

How to Enhance the Food Safety Culture at Your Establishment (1)

In the foodservice industry, serving safe food is a vital part of keeping your customers and your health inspectors happy. If a foodborne illness outbreak is traced to your establishment, at best you’ll probably get some bad reviews. At worst, you could get sued. In rare cases, people could die.

Set your business up for success by following our tips for enhancing the food safety culture among your employees.

Don’t just teach food hygiene on the job

Studies have shown that on-the-job training is the most common form of food safety training in foodservice. This could include a manager showing a new employee around on their first day, guiding them through the preparation of their first meals, and teaching them how to clean kitchen equipment at the end of the day.

On-the-job training is fine if it’s used in addition to — not instead of — formal employee training. But there are a few problems with relying completely on on-the-job training for new food workers:

  1. It implies the manager has the skills and knowledge needed to train new employees adequately. Teaching isn’t a natural skill for everyone — and food safety knowledge can vary depending on the manager.
  2. It’s inconsistent. Unless you have a training policy that spells out what all new employees must learn, the manager could forget some important details. If you have multiple managers, you run the risk of each manager emphasizing a different task.
  3. Managers don’t have time to do it well. Managers have a lot of responsibilities competing for their attention. One study indicated that 40% of managers don’t teach their employees any food hygiene training.

Provide formal food safety training for new employees

Instead of relying on your managers to provide on-the-job training, you can make things easier for everyone by providing formal food safety training. For entry-level positions, this could be food handler training. For managerial positions, it could be food manager training.

(Video) 7 Best Practices to Improve Food Safety Culture

Even if you operate in an area where food handler or food manager training isn’t legally required, it’s a good idea to ask your employees to get it. Formal training will ensure that new employees receive sufficient training on food hygiene.

Not only that, when you provide training, you show your employees — and your customers — how much you care about food safety. Employees are more likely to follow food safety practices when they know it’s important to their manager.

Look for high-quality training that changes the way employees think and act toward food safety

When you’re looking for training, look for high-quality courses that will teach your employees the importance of food safety. When they understand the real consequences that could come from a poorly prepared meal, it will change the way they think about food preparation.

You’ll know a training course is high quality when it has the following characteristics:

  1. It follows instructional design principles. For example, at StateFoodSafety, we design our training courses based on a teaching framework called Bloom’s Taxonomy. In a nutshell, the goal of Bloom’s Taxonomy is to teach concepts so well that not only can learners remember them after passing the test, they can apply them in a variety of different situations.
  2. It explains food safety principles instead of just requiring employees to memorize facts. While some memorization is required to pass a food handler test — the list of recommended cooking temperatures come to mind — it shouldn’t be the basis of an entire course. A high-quality training course not only teaches food safety principles, it explains why those principles are so important. And knowing why food safety matters will help employees change any bad habits they may have.
  3. It accommodates different learning styles. Training is most effective when it includes elements for people with all four learning styles:
Learning stylePeople with this style learn best by…
VisualSeeing information presented in a diagram, flow chart, or other type of graphic.
Aural/AuditoryListening to information as part of a lecture or discussion. They may also sort through their ideas by talking through them.
Read/writeReading information in articles, reports, essays, slideshow presentations, etc.
KinestheticParticipating in role-play activities or seeing real-life examples of the information in action.
  1. It gives employees a chance to practice what they learn. A well-known proverb about effective teaching states: “Tell me something and I’ll forget. Show me something and I’ll remember. Involve me and I’ll understand.” Research shows that using games in teaching is more effective than simply explaining concepts. For this reason, we use practice games in all our courses.
  2. It’s accessible to employees who speak a language other than English. An incredibly diverse group of people work in foodservice. According to QSR Magazine, more than 23% of restaurant workers, 43% of restaurant chefs, and 25% of restaurant managers in the U.S. were born outside of the country. High quality training accounts for language barriers as well as unique challenges like hearing loss and deafness. That’s why we offer food handler training in eight languages — and constantly work to add new ones. We also provide subtitles and audio transcripts for our training for people who prefer reading to listening.

Create food safety policies and train your staff on them

Establish food safety policies specific to your establishment. This will help your staff understand how to apply food safety training to their day-to-day job responsibilities. It also underscores the importance you place on food safety.

Every establishment should have at least three different policies:

(Video) Building Your Food Safety Culture

  • HACCP Plan. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. The purpose of a HACCP plan is to identify, evaluate, and control anything that could harm food safety. For example, you could make a rule that all foods be cooked to the FDA’s recommended cooking temperatures so that all disease-causing bacteria are killed. Your HACCP plan can be as detailed as you need. You should create a regular cleaning schedule as part of your plan.
  • Food Allergy Management Plan. Food allergies are becoming more common. With about 32 million people with food allergies in the United States, your chances of serving someone with an allergy are high. When someone with a food allergy comes into contact with their trigger allergen, they could have a severe reaction. Make a Food Allergy Management Plan so that your employees know how to keep meals for those customers allergy-free.
  • Emergency Plan. The safety of your food and your ability to serve customers depend on your access to two things: clean water and reliable power. Unfortunately, you can’t assume you will always have water and electricity. A natural disaster can contaminate your water supply or interrupt the power. Make an emergency plan now so that your employees know exactly what to do if an emergency occurs.

After you create your food safety policies, don’t forget to follow up! Praise the employees who follow policy and patiently correct employees who don’t. Continually train employees on each policy so they’re fresh in their minds.

Hold regular stand-up trainings to reinforce food safety principles

Although formal food safety training will give your employees the knowledge they need to keep food safe, even the best training will eventually fade away if it’s never revisited.

Reinforce food safety principles by holding stand-up trainings regularly. Stand-up trainings should only last 5-10 minutes and focus on just one principle.

For example, if you wanted to give a stand-up training about handwashing, you might start by having a discussion with your employees about why handwashing is so important. Next, you could demonstrate the steps for proper handwashing. Finish by quizzing your employees on how often they should wash their hands.

We provide free stand-up training guides with more ideas for you and your managers. Each guide includes a list of facts about the training topic. It also contains ideas for hands-on activities to help keep employees engaged.

Post printed food safety reminders

There’s a lot that employees have to remember to keep food safe — cooking temperatures, proper handwashing procedures, safe cooling methods, and more. If they don’t remember something immediately, they may guess at what they’re supposed to do, with disastrous results.

(Video) 7 Best Practices to Improve Food Safety Culture

Help your employees out by putting printed reminders about common issues around your establishment. At StateFoodSafety, we provide dozens of resources about a variety of food safety topics. You can download any of them for free on our Food Safety Resource Gallery.

Each resource type is uniquely suited to a specific use:

  • Food safety posters, cartoons, and infographics can be printed out and displayed in the kitchen or a break area
  • Use forms to help make employees more accountable for enforcing your food safety policies
  • Show videos during stand-up trainings

In addition to the resources available on the resource gallery, you can request special resources through our Resource Request Form. Special resources include handwashing stickers, food safety cartoon calendars, and training information flyers.

Follow up by holding practice health inspections

You’ve made sure every member of your staff is trained in food hygiene. You chose high-quality training that changed how each employee thinks and acts toward food safety. You created your own establishment-specific food safety policies, hold regular stand-up trainings, and posted printed reminders to help employees keep food safe.

There’s only one thing left to do — follow up. Following up on food safety training is just as important to creating a food safety culture as the training itself.

Monitor your employees’ behavior. Are they conscious of food safety when preparing meals? Do they follow your policies? Do they engage in stand-up trainings and reference printed reminders when they have a question?

(Video) Food Safety Conversation: Creating A Food Safety Culture

If you feel employees may be forming bad habits despite your efforts to correct them, try holding a self-inspection. Pretend to be a health inspector and announce you’re doing a surprise inspection.

Holding regular self-inspections will help your staff understand what health inspectors look for in a real health inspection. It will also help drive home the point that food safety is a vital part of all food workers’ jobs.

Contact StateFoodSafety to see how we can help you achieve your food safety goals

Contact us to see how we can help you enhance the food safety culture at your establishment.

How to Enhance the Food Safety Culture at Your Establishment (2)

— Jessica Pettit


How to Enhance the Food Safety Culture at Your Establishment? ›

StateFoodSafety Resources
  1. Don't just teach food hygiene on the job.
  2. Provide formal food safety training for new employees.
  3. Look for high-quality training that changes the way employees think and act toward food safety.
  4. Create food safety policies and train your staff on them.

How can you improve the establishment of food safety practices? ›

10 ways to ensure food safety in your business
  1. Plan the design and location of your facilities. ...
  2. Understand your machinery and production lines. ...
  3. Take a proactive approach to maintenance. ...
  4. Put measures in place to control pests. ...
  5. Provide appropriate waste management. ...
  6. Clean regularly. ...
  7. Be aware of environmental hygiene.
Sep 20, 2017

What steps can be taken to enhance safety culture? ›

5 Steps to Change the Safety Culture in your Organisation
  • Commitment and Communication. Both are key aspects to a successful and positive safety culture in the workplace. ...
  • Lead by Example. ...
  • Develop and Implement a Positive Reporting Process. ...
  • Provide Training. ...
  • Involve Employees.

What are the ways to improve safety culture in organizations? ›

7 Suggestions to Improve Your Safety Culture
  1. Establish C-Level Buy-in. ...
  2. Collect Data to Drive Improvement. ...
  3. Establish a Team and Set Goals. ...
  4. Identify Safety as a Core Value and Create a Supportive Environment. ...
  5. Communicate and Empower. ...
  6. Evaluate your progress. ...
  7. Stay proactive and drive continuous improvement.
Mar 13, 2022

How do you promote safety culture in the workplace? ›

9 Ways to Promote a Culture of Safety
  1. 1) Assess Your Current Safety Culture. ...
  2. 2) Create a Safe Environment for All. ...
  3. 3) Appoint Someone to Champion the Cause. ...
  4. 4) Get Your Leadership on Board. ...
  5. 5) Educate Your Team. ...
  6. 6) Involve Employees. ...
  7. 7) Keep Contractors Involved. ...
  8. 8) Check Employee and Equipment Certifications.
Jun 8, 2018

What are 5 food safety practices? ›

The core messages of the Five Keys to Safer Food are: (1) keep clean; (2) separate raw and cooked; (3) cook thoroughly; (4) keep food at safe temperatures; and (5) use safe water and raw materials.

What are the ways to ensure food safety? ›

Four Steps to Food Safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill. Following four simple steps at home—Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill—can help protect you and your loved ones from food poisoning.

What is an example of promoting a culture of safety? ›

For example, team training, interdisciplinary rounding or executive walk rounds, and unit-based strategies that include a series of interventions have all been labeled as interventions to promote a culture of safety.

What is the most important food safety rule? ›

Separate raw and cooked foods to prevent contaminating the cooked foods. Cook foods for the appropriate length of time and at the appropriate temperature to kill pathogens. Store food at the proper temperature. Use safe water and safe raw materials.

What is the importance food handling safety practices? ›

Why is Food Handling Important? Food handling is important because unsafe food handling can lead to outbreaks of foodborne illnesses (commonly known as food poisoning). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), foodborne illnesses can cause long-lasting disability and even death.

What is a positive safety culture? ›

Organisations with a positive safety culture are characterised by communications founded on mutual trust, by shared perceptions of the importance of safety and by confidence in the efficacy of preventive measures.”

What factors create a culture of safety? ›

Essential Elements of a Culture of Safety

Key elements of a culture of safety in an organization include the establishment of safety as an organizational priority, teamwork, patient involvement, openness/transparency, and accountability (Lamb, Studdert, Bohmer, Berwick, & Brennan, 2003).

What are 4 factors that contribute to a culture of safety? ›

The largest influences on safety culture are:
  • management commitment and style.
  • employee involvement.
  • training and competence.
  • communication.
  • compliance with procedures, and.
  • organisational learning.

How can workplace health and safety be improved? ›

Make your workplace safer
  1. Involve everyone in health and safety.
  2. Identify hazards in your workplace.
  3. Assess risks.
  4. Control risks.
  5. Review controls.
  6. Record and report safety issues.
  7. Support return to work.
  8. Make your workplace healthier.
Aug 4, 2021

What is safety culture promotion? ›

Workplace Ergonomics

Safety culture can be promoted as easily as ensuring your employees are trained to conduct their work safely but also in the correct manner and are given the correct equipment to do so.

What is safety culture in the workplace? ›

“The safety culture of an organisation is the product of individual and group values, attitudes, perceptions, competencies, and patterns of behaviour that determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, an organisation's health and safety management.

How can workplace health and safety be improved? ›

Make your workplace safer
  1. Involve everyone in health and safety.
  2. Identify hazards in your workplace.
  3. Assess risks.
  4. Control risks.
  5. Review controls.
  6. Record and report safety issues.
  7. Support return to work.
  8. Make your workplace healthier.
Aug 4, 2021

Why is food safety culture important? ›

A strong culture of food safety helps a facility both to prevent and catch deviations in their processes that impact the safety, quality, and legality of their products. This, in turn, has a major impact on the likelihood and severity of a recall impacting that site.

What actions can you take to improve the health of your organization? ›

  • Organizational Health. Organizational health often gets neglected. ...
  • Build a Cohesive Leadership Team. A cohesive leadership team is the foundation for a healthy organization. ...
  • Create Clarity. Creating Clarity is about achieving alignment. ...
  • Over communicate Clarity. ...
  • Reinforce Clarity. ...
  • Summary. ...
  • References.
Aug 28, 2016


1. How to strengthen your food safety culture with GFSI’s new position paper
2. Best Practices for Building a Food Safety Culture
(P&G Professional)
3. BRC Talk 4 - Food Safety Culture - What are the BRCGS Food & Packaging Standards looking for?
4. What is a food safety culture?
(Safe Food Production Queensland)
5. Creating a Healthy Food Safety Culture
(Safe Quality Food Institute)
6. Food Safety Culture - Beyond Systems & Strategies
(Food Focus SA)

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