Food Safety Culture Plan


What You Need to Know

Food Safety Culture is defined by the Global Food Safety Initiative as “shared values, beliefs and norms that affect mindset and behavior toward food safety in, across and throughout an organization."

An organization’s culture can have a significant impact on the food safety and quality program. The greater the food safety culture, the greater the influence that culture can have with producing a safe, legal and consistent food product.

To develop a positive food safety culture, you’ll need a structured, multi-year plan in place with measurable objectives and progressive goals to continuously increase food safety awareness. In today’s post, I’ll discuss what a food safety culture plan is, why it’s important, and how to get started.

Food Safety Culture Plan


The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recognizes the importance of culture and how it affects food safety and quality. Currently, the BRCGS audit scheme requires that each certified facility implement a food safety culture plan with measurable objectives. SQF (Safe Quality Food) is working on a newly revised Issue 9 where senior site management will be required to lead and support a food safety culture within the site that includes a documented culture plan with measurable objectives along with the empowerment of staff to inform management of potential food safety issues.

But this is not just a GFSI initiative. FDA also recognizes the importance of an effective food safety culture and is currently assessing culture as part of their compliance audits. FDA has recently released their “New Era of Food Safety” plan, which is centered around 4 key elements:

  • Tech-enabled traceability
  • Smarter tools and approaches for prevention and outbreak response
  • New business models and retail modernization
  • Food safety culture

Food Safety Culture Plan

Is it the same as a Food Safety Plan?
For each individual food facility, a positive food safety culture can help with improving employee morale and retention, while increasing food safety awareness and best practices which ultimately reduces food safety risk.
The short answer is no! The food safety plan is a written hazard control program that identifies risk and critical controls within the process that, when implemented and monitored correctly, results in producing a safe food product. Think of food safety culture as those beliefs, norms and behavioral efforts that improve the overall implementation and compliance of the food safety plan. Without these efforts, the food safety plan can fall short and result in a recall. Think of food safety culture as another foundational prerequisite program that supports your HACCP and/or Preventive Controls food safety plans.


It all starts with senior management commitment. A good program must be anchored by a commitment from management to not only provide resources to support and grow an increasingly positive culture, but management must also “walk-the-talk” by making decisions based on solid food safety principles. Other key elements include:
  • A food safety culture team
  • Goal planning
  • Measurable short and long-term culture objectives
  • Employee empowerment and retention
  • Effective communication
  • Food safety education
  • Risk-based decision-making
Culture plans should be unique to each individual organization. A team can be established to study an organization’s current culture and to develop specific goals to continuously assess and improve those important elements that can significantly impact food safety.

How Do I Get Started

Managing and influencing a company culture can often be a challenging task. Food Safety and Quality Services has created a new training program called developing a positive food safety culture that will assist attendees with designing an effective food safety culture program that meets individual organizational needs while also meeting the current GFSI requirements. Schedule your class today to learn how to gather baseline data to understand the current maturity level of your company’s culture as well as how employee education, empowerment and retention can positively influence food safety.

Prerequisite programs that will help with a food safety culture implementation include HACCP, Preventive Controls for Human Food, ServSafe Food Protection Manager and Food Defense (IAVA).

Register for one of our upcoming classes or contact us today to schedule your in-house training.

About the author

Food Safety Specialist Lance Roberie

Lance Roberie

Food Safety Consultant and Trainer

Lance Roberie has over 20 years of quality assurance and food safety experience within the food industry. Mr. Roberie holds the following certifications:

Lance and the Food Safety & Quality Services’ training curriculum will advance your team's food safety knowledge through certified training, consulting, and “real life” industry scenarios.

Need a Food Safety Specialist?

Free 15 Minute Consultation.
Schedule Consultation

Learn how we helped Abita Brewing Company pass their first food safety audit with an A grade.

Abita Brewery

Abita Brewery - Audits

Abita Brewery

Abita Brewery - Audits