Ian Thomas Associates

Food safety culture – new BSI guidance

A recent welcome addition to the food safety culture ‘library’ is PAS 320:2023, ‘Developing and sustaining a mature food safety culture – Guide’ published in April 2023 by the British Standards Institution.

The need for a food safety culture is highlighted in the Introduction to the Guide where it refers to the millions of people throughout the world that become ill through consuming contaminated food.

The Guide provides a framework using the ‘plan-do-check-act’ approach which can be adapted to large and small organisations.

One of the fundamental aspects of a food safety culture is management commitment. This is referred to PAS 320 and in Chapter XIa of Annex II of Regulation 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs which states, as a legal requirement:

“Food business operators shall establish, maintain and provide evidence of an appropriate food safety culture by fulfilling the following requirements:

  • commitment of the management …”

The BSI Guide notes that in addition to showing commitment, they must also demonstrate accountability in respect of setting the business’s vision, mission and values within which food safety is an integral and vital component.

Good communication to all staff across all areas of the organisation is essential to share those values and that commitments and ensure that everyone is aware of their roles and responsibilities to further a shared responsibility to produce safe food.

Successfully implementing any system depends on people and senior management need to be aware of the influence a trained, motivated and appreciated workforce can have on the food safety culture.

One of the leading proponents of this topic over many years has been Frank Yiannas. He has remarked that the production of safe food is not simply because the inspector was coming but rather because food producers know food safety is the right thing to do and they care about their customers.


Food safety culture is therefore also about human behaviour and instilling the ethos of doing the right thing all the time even when no one is watching.

This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute the provision of legal advice. If you require further information about this topic, please contact us.

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