Evaluating and Predicting Maturity of Food Safety Culture in Food Manufacturing.

Jespersen, Lone
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University of Guelph

Food safety culture might well be the most discussed item in modern food safety. As such, many offer opinions on what food safety culture is without offering science-based arguments and subsequently create more confusion than resolution. The research presented seeks to further the conversation through development of a valid and predictable system for evaluating food safety culture in food manufacturing. The researcher proposes five dimensions that can help segment the topic of food safety culture. These were derived from a comparative analysis of eight existing systems designed to evaluate either organizational culture or food safety culture. The dimensions were applied through method triangulation to evaluate maturity of food safety culture in five North American food companies. Analysis of the data proved the scale’s predictive validity as well as the validity and necessity of assessing social desirability in the food safety context. The research concludes with an updated food safety maturity model that provides researchers and practitioners alike with a roadmap to maturing food safety culture along four of the five suggested dimensions. Finally, the researcher proposes a culture model for defining critical actions between food safety cultural building blocks and calls for more research in quantifying business impact of the maturity of these critical actions.

food safety culture, food manufacturing