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Shaping food safety culture

Achieving a strong food safety culture takes effective leadership and commitment, and contributions and support from everyone in your business.

This document outlines some simple practices you can put in place to develop, shape and strengthen your business's food safety culture. Keys areas you may choose to improve are:

  • leadership − creating a vision on food safety and 'walking the talk' to inspire your team

  • workplace environment  − effective two-way communication and a supportive environment where staff feel confident to contribute

  • staff knowledge  − more than training: applying their knowledge on the job to result in the right behaviour, every time

  • relationship with regulators  − creating and maintaining a positive, collaborative partnership

  • data collection and assessment  − ideally more than basic paperwork: systems in place to record, assess and identify areas for improving food safety performance.

The pathway to change

  1. Commit to food safety

  2. Get involved

  3. Encourage participation

  4. Review your performance

  5. Culture change

Where do I start?

  • Read the case studies below for real-life examples of how Australian food businesses successfully changed their culture.

  • Identify areas for improvement in your business by using the results from your initial health check questionnaire (PDF 218KB) and/or the lists in our Step 2 Checklists (PDF 239KB) for change.

  • Start by choosing up to five priority actions from any or all of the checklists (PDF 239KB), in the areas you have chosen to work on.

  • Once you've completed these actions, choose a few more. Keep going until you've put in place as many points as possible.

  • Remember your food regulator can also help.

Real life stories from Australian companies

​1. A food manufacturer 

The problem: Food safety wasn’t a priority for senior management. After a few high-profile recalls, they realised something needed to change.

The solution:

  • food safety champions were introduced
  • food safety was incorporated into strategic plans at all levels of the company
  • general managers now participate in certification audits
  • regular food safety talks are presented at managers’ meetings
  • food safety is included in routine site meetings
  • new technology is used to help respond to issues and incidents
  • food safety reports are routinely given to the Board.

The company understands food safety is an investment in business, not a cost of doing business.​

2. A catering company

The problem:

Challenges of high staff turnover and keeping food safety front of mind.

The solution:

"We've seen how strengthening the culture makes a real difference. When we focus on a particular region and run workshops and visit sites (as opposed to doing audits), we see an improvement in our audit outcomes. Unfortunately this improvement seems to drop away after about 12 months unless we follow up.

One of our biggest issues is the change of staff and we try and deal with this by having strong local inductions and training for all new staff.

Over the next year we plan to have '12 months of food safety' with a different topic each month. All our sites will be required to hold short (15-minute) food safety meetings every month and keep a record of who attends. We'll distribute posters and other tools to help staff with their discussions at these meetings."

Read other examples on our Food safety culture in action page.


Page last updated 15 December 2023