18 months of work, 35 members from 12 countries, 54 pages - the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) released its new position paper on "A Culture of Food Safety" in April 2018.

Whether a company manages to ensure the quality and safety of its products over the long term is largely dependent on the corporate culture and value system within the organization. However, since topics such as corporate culture are difficult to capture in standards, they remain in the background in current certification systems such as IFS, BRC and FSSC 22000.

With its new position paper, the GFSI now aims to remedy this situation. The paper is intended to help managers and practitioners in the food industry to establish and maintain a culture of food safety. Essentially, the paper addresses three key areas:

  1. The essential role of managers within an organization in implementation (a point that also plays a significant role in the revision of ISO 9001:2015).
  2. Factors such as communication, (training) education, collaboration, and personal liability
  3. How learned skills such as adaptability or hazard awareness transfer food safety practices from theory to practice.

In doing so, the authors are aware that they are trying a balancing act between, on the one hand, laws and standards that clearly regulate food safety and, on the other hand, the concept of culture, which goes far beyond that. Culture works independently of laws and more instinctively; the tools and checklists provided are an attempt - based on the authors' corporate experience - to convey how a corporate culture can be fostered and adapted to existing food safety initiatives.

In terms of content, the document is divided into five chapters that correspond to the five dimensions of a food safety culture; these are vision & mission, people, consistency, adaptability, hazards and risk awareness. Each of these chapters provides detailed information on achieving mature and sustainable food safety. In addition, guiding questions and supplemental appendices facilitate entry and understanding.


The authors put the document together under two guiding principles: first, the content had to be based on existing scientific evidence; and second, it had to have a clear practical focus on the most critical areas of food safety. In other words, with this guide, the GFSI aims to provide the most necessary and practical information for developing a corporate food safety culture.

You can download the full report of the GFSI working group entitled "A Culture of Food Safety" on the GFSI website. Click here download it in English.


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DQS is an approved certification body for the BRCGS additional module "Food Safety Culture".

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Dr. Thijs Willaert

Dr. Thijs Willaert is Head of Marketing & Communications for the Sustainability and Food Safety segments. He is also an auditor for the external audit of sustainability reports. His areas of interest include sustainability management, sustainable procurement, and the digitalization of the audit landscape.