Food safety culture

We released a research report on 5 July 2018 about food safety culture in New Zealand food businesses. Find out about the research, what we discovered, and how it will help us improve food safety.

Why we did the research

Having a strong food safety culture is important for delivering safe and suitable food. In 2017, the Food Safety Assurance and Advisory Council (FSSAC) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) commissioned Colmar Brunton to research food safety culture in New Zealand food businesses.

We did it to get a better understanding of how businesses were implementing and maintaining strong food safety cultures in the workplace.

What we found

pair of hands wearing see-through gloves handling food on a plate with a stainless bowl to the side

Most food business owners, managers, and staff have an inherent sense of pride in what they are doing.

They are motivated to build and maintain a good reputation for their food business. But there is still work to do to ensure consistency across all types and sizes of businesses. 

The good news

Food businesses are doing well in several areas.

  • Most of those surveyed had formalised food safety policies and procedures – 95% said they had policies and rules in place to identify and deal with food safety risks.
  • Keeping customers safe was top of mind. The main factor mentioned for having good food safety practices was customer safety and ensuring no one gets sick.
  • There's good leadership on food safety culture – 75% of employees surveyed said their managers visibly showed support for food safety and ‘walk the talk'.

What could be done better? 

Some areas for improvement were found.

  • Although most businesses had rules and procedures in place to manage food safety risks, only 69% of food businesses surveyed had specific food safety goals and key performance indicators.
  • Businesses need to work on developing a more inclusive and shared sense of responsibility for food safety across the whole organisation supply chain. Only 3% of food businesses surveyed reported data on their food safety performance back to their employees.
  • Businesses need to work on rewarding their employees for taking part in the day-to-day improvement of their food safety practices. Only 13% of food businesses surveyed said they had a formal reward system for staff who identified food safety problems.

Download the research report [PDF, 2.4 MB]

How we will use this research

This research helps MPI build a better picture of how food businesses view and develop strong food safety cultures throughout their supply chains. The research will help us engage with businesses on food safety matters. It will:

  • feed into a work programme focused on developing more effective food safety tools for businesses
  •  identify resources food businesses need to support the development of strong food safety cultures.

Research methodology

Nine hundred food business and 193 employees spanning all areas of the food supply chain from manufacturers to retailers were surveyed. Survey methods used were:

  • a telephone survey of 900 business decision-makers
  • an online survey of 193 staff
  • 20 in-depth qualitative interviews with business decision-makers.

Find out more

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