A record level of food recalls in 2018 reflects problems with organisational food safety culture as well as poor training, controls and a lack of accountability, risk management specialist SAI Global says.

Recall figures from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) reveal a 45 per cent jump on 2017. Major reasons for recalls have been: undeclared allergens; microbial contaminations; presence of foreign matter; and incorrect labelling.

SAI Global food safety training specialist Brad Costello says on top of that, “dozens of food businesses across the country are fined each year for food practices that compromise customer health and safety – from poor hygiene, to failing to eradicate pests, to storing food at the wrong temperatures”.

For Costello, lack of skills or knowledge of food handlers, is underpinned by a lack of commitment from business managers.

“Implementing a strong food safety culture is a mind-set change for most businesses. As it is driven from the top of the organisation – and can only be successful with the commitment and contribution of everyone in the business.

“It requires businesses to formally train their staff to provide an environment that supports a high standard of organisational food culture. Regularly evaluating performances and implementing improvements to make, store, handle, sell or serve food that is safe, should be a top priority for all food businesses, and is what we aim to achieve through our audits,” Costello says.

Costello says there are five indicators of a poor food safety culture:

  1. Not keeping hot food ‘hot’ or cold food ‘cold’;

  2. Ineffective cross contamination management;

  3. Incorrectly labelling a packaged food;

  4. Poor staff hygiene and handling practices; and

  5. Failing to remove pests.


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