Food Safety 8: Does your whistleblowing system cut the mustard?
For food retailers, manufacturers and service organisations employees are on the front-line in spotting issues relating to food safety and, of course, it’s in the best interests of any company to be aware of these issues as they occur. But, this requires an effective system for enabling issues to be reported, in confidence and without fear of retaliation.
BRC Global Standards has recognised this with the publication in August 2018 of a new version of its Food Safety Standard which now includes a specific requirement for a confidential reporting system to be in place. After a transition phase of six months, the BRC Food Safety Standard Issue 8 will come into effect from 1st February 2019.
The specific requirements of Food Safety 8 relating to this requirement are that:
1. Companies should have a confidential reporting system to enable staff to report concerns relating to product safety, integrity, quality and legality.
2. The mechanism for reporting concerns must be clearly communicated to staff.
3. The company’s senior management should have a process for assessing any concerns raised. Records of the assessment and, where appropriate, actions taken, should be documented.
Many organisations will already have a whistleblowing system in place, either internally or through an external provider, but they are often under-utilised – perhaps because employees find the system difficult to access or use; or because the culture of the organisation does not support, or even actively discourages, reporting; or even that employees are simply unaware that such a system is available to them.