This idea is closely linked to that of food safety, which in turn cannot be achieved without food security. The United Nations’ Agenda 2030 has as its Second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”. Food is essential for our existence, so the elimination of any kind of risk in the consumption of this food forms the basis of food safety.
Food safety refers to the conditions and practices that maintain the quality of the food to prevent contamination and diseases that can be caught when consuming food.
The World Health Organization estimates that one in ten of the population suffers ill health from eating food that has been processed or prepared by others. Food safety practices have therefore acquired great importance and need to be implemented in the whole food production and supply chain.
At Grupo La Caña our goal is to produce and sell healthy food and to do so as leaders in food safety, environmental sustainability and social responsibility. We are therefore aligned with the new clause 1.12 included in 2018 by BRC Food, where it says that “The site’s senior management shall define and maintain a clear plan for the development and continuous improvement of a food safety and quality culture”
The implementation of best practices means going beyond the established regulations on food safety and hygiene standards and adopting a business culture based on “safety culture”.
This “safety culture” establishes the basis of all the organization’s departments, from senior management to the plant operators, and their involvement in the food safety and security plan. We have set up a working group to prepare this plan, to establish the criteria for implementing food safety practices, from the measurable goals to a year-to-year continuous improvement programme.
The main goal of the plan is to incorporate responsible habits of behaviour in the daily tasks of all employees, which can only be achieved by working on these aspects.
- Organizational leadership guides the direction and tone of the company’s food safety culture. The management must have a firm grasp of safety culture and be able to transmit this to the whole organization with clear, effective messages.
- People are a critical component for the food safety culture. The behaviour and activities of employees contribute to food safety and it is essential to set up a structure with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
- The degree to which employees are empowered to promote food safety will have an impact on the organization’s ability to adapt, improve and sustain its food safety culture. All leaders must “practice what they preach” and be consistent in their messages to ensure that everyone understands that food safety is a programme of continuous improvement.
- Consistency is the alignment of the priorities for food safety with the people, technology, resources and processes.
- “Adaptability” is the ability to accommodate changing conditions and influences. The change may be anticipated or take the form of a specific event, like the loss of a product or a problem with a client. The adaptability of a company with a strong food safety culture will be shown in its capacity to anticipate, prepare, respond and adjust to changes.
- Awareness of the dangers and risks inherent in any production, handling or packaging operation with food, based on a philosophy of work that places more importance on people than on the market.
Not only must the work be structured to create habits of responsible behaviour on which the practices of food safety can be established, but there must be participation mechanisms at all levels of the organization.
At Grupo La Caña, we have given training talks to ensure that our employees are aware of the need to inform their managers of any evidence they see to suggest that products or raw materials are not innocuous or up to standard, so that any problems that require immediate intervention can be resolved. This information is also reinforced by a suggestion box in which employees can propose improvements for any aspect related with food safety.
This is all done in the conviction that a food safety culture will lead to a more robust food safety system that offers more guarantees and is able to anticipate any risks.