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Food safety culture


What is food safety culture?

Food safety culture in a business is how everyone (owners, managers, employees) thinks and acts in their daily job to make sure that the food they make or serve is safe. It's about having pride in producing safe food every time, recognising that a good quality product must be safe to eat. Food safety is your top priority.

A strong food safety cu lture comes from people understanding the importance of making safe food and committing to doing whatever it takes, every time. It starts at the top but needs everyone's support across the business.

Why is it important?

A good food safety culture can protect:

  • consumers from foodborne illness

  • your brand's reputation

  • your business from financial loss.

The facts

  • 4.1 million cases of foodborne illness (each year) with contaminated food causing about 30,800 hospitalisations and 76 deaths [1]

  • 70 food recalls a year, mostly due to contamination by disease-causing microorganisms, or allergens that were not declared on the label.

Unsafe food can be linked to poor hygiene practices or mistakes by people handling food. This can occur, even when people are trained and businesses are inspected and audited.

Food businesses need to focus on people as well as processes: especially what the people who handle our food know and what they do in their everyday work in their workplaces.

Food safety is everyone's responsibility: Avoid illness and other costs of mistakes; a trustworthy product & brand; Safe behaviour makes safe food 

Where do I start?

FSANZ has developed some easy-to-use tools and resources to help businesses and regulators work together to improve food safety culture, through a 3-step process:

Step 1: Know where your business stands

We've put together a short questionnaire to help you do a quick 'health check' of your business's food safety culture. You'll get a picture of how your decision makers and team members rank the business's overall approach to food safety - from the general philosophy in the workplace, to training and monitoring arrangements, to the relationship with food regulators. Do a health check of your food safety culture.

Step 2: Do something to make a difference

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

Step 3: Follow through for a long-lasting impact

Track and improve your food safety culture. FSANZ is working with food regulatory agencies to trial food safety culture resources with selected food businesses. These resources include​ ‘culture maturity matrix’ documents to help businesses self-assess their culture, identify strengths and weaknesses and track progress over time. 

This Step 3 resource has been drafted with the aim of helping food businesses measure their food safety culture in more detail. It is for information only – it is not a validated tool for auditing or regulatory purposes.

Download the Step 3 resource (PDF 965 kb)


Visit our Food Safety Hub.​


  1. Kirk M, Ford L, Glass K, Hall G. Foodborne illness, Australia, circa 2000 and circa 2010.




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