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The Shift From Compliance to “Culture + Systems” Approaches

In the intricate web of the modern food industry, ensuring food safety stands as a crucial mandate. However, the landscape has evolved, demanding a shift from traditional hazard-based tactics to a balanced risk-based “culture + systems” approach. This transition is not only imperative but also laden with challenges. As food industry professionals work to unravel these complexities, it becomes evident that data-driven risk analysis is the key to navigating this shift to a resilient and proactive industry.





The traditional approach to food safety management often operates within a narrow framework of routine testing and inspections, overlooking the inherent variability in risk levels across the production and distribution of food. This method, while offering a sense of security, often proves inefficient in engaging leaders and team members in the management of risks. A shift from compliance to a risk-based food safety system offers a transformation towards a lived risk management system where companies can adapt swiftly to new or unknown hazards and risks.2

At the core of the risk-based “culture + systems” approach is a proactive mindset. A mindset that transcends reactive measures and embraces anticipation and prevention as cornerstones of food safety management by identifying and addressing risks before they become problems and, worse still, crises. Food companies are not only better positioned to protect public health but are also better positioned to safeguard their employees and brands.


Tools for Effective Implementation

Effective implementation of a risk-based food safety system hinges upon utilising appropriate metrics, tools, and techniques. From advanced modelling approaches3 to embedding psychosocial risks into hazard analyses1, companies can adapt the appropriate methodologies and tailor their risk management strategies to their processes and products. These tools provide invaluable insights into high-risk areas, enabling companies to allocate resources more efficiently and prioritize efforts where they are most needed.



Equally important as these tools is the cultivation of a robust food safety culture within the organization. A mature food safety culture that permeates every aspect of operations, from the production floor to the boardroom, instils a collective commitment to excellence in food safety practices.


Culture at the Core

A culture of food safety goes beyond mere compliance with regulations; it encompasses shared values, beliefs, and norms that prioritize the safety and well-being of consumers above all else.4 It starts with courageous business leaders who actively decide to educate themselves on what it means to proactively lead a food company that puts risk-based culture and systems first. They must use that courage to stay the course on culture change and invest in data systems to bring transparency into decisions from top to front.

Furthermore, effective communication is paramount in bridging the gap between food safety protocols and company leadership. By articulating the tangible benefits of risk-based strategies in terms of operational efficiency, cost reduction, and brand protection, food industry professionals can gain support and investment from all levels of the organization more effectively.

In conclusion, the transition from hazard-based to risk-based food safety represents not just a nice-to-have mindset shift but a necessity in the ever-evolving food industry. By embracing data-driven approaches, food industry professionals can confidently navigate the complexities of risk management, fortifying their organizations against future challenges and contributing to the collective goal of ensuring a safer and more sustainable food supply chain. As we navigate the complexities of the evolving food safety landscape, it is imperative that we leverage the power of data and technology to inform our decisions, mitigate risks, and safeguard public health. Through collaboration, innovation, and a steadfast commitment to excellence, we can chart a course towards a future where food safety is not just a priority but a fundamental pillar of our industry’s success.


Join us at the GFSI Conference

Neogen is a proud supporter of the Global Food Safety Initiative. We look forward to meeting attendees at our booth and hosting an engaging discussion on this topic during our 2024 GFSI Conference special session, “Data-Driven Evolution of Risk-Based Food Safety,“ on Wednesday, April 10th at 2:00 pm. Visit info.neogen.com/GFSI to learn how to develop smarter, safer, and stronger food safety best practices with Neogen.





1. Jespersen & Lijana. (Publication in progress). Get to actual food safety by combining culture and systems: Introducing psychosocial risks.
2. Sampedro, F. (2023, August 16). Introduction to a Risk-based Food Safety System [Webinar]. Neogen.
3. Chen, R., Orsi, R. H., Guariglia-Oropeza, V., & Wiedmann, M. (2022). Development of a modelling tool to assess and reduce regulatory and recall risks for cold-smoked salmon due to listeria monocytogenes contamination. Journal of Food Protection, 85(9), 1335-1354.
4. GFSI. A Culture of Food Safety: A Position Paper from the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). V1.0 – 4/11/18.

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