View Report Details
Food safety management issues likely to contribute to food safety control failure in food SMEs
Project Code: E03006
As part of the research into food law enforcement being sponsored by the Food Standards Agency, this project was designed to provide a better understanding of the relationship between the management of small and medium sized food businesses and the potential development of food safety problems. As enforcement officers conduct inspections of food businesses, as well as identifying food safety factors, they might be able to assess management issues which could contribute to future food safety problems. By systematically evaluating the relationship between food safety factors and management issues, the research aimed to identify key factors and issues, to consider whether enforcement officers or the Agency could make their activity more effective in reducing the risk of food safety problems.
Management issues and food safety factors were collated from published sources and identified through interviews with food businesses and enforcement officers. A questionnaire to assess food businesses was then developed. 170 questionnaires were successfully completed by enforcement officers from 11 authorities in England after programmed food hygiene inspections of food businesses.
Statistical analysis showed that the management issues assessed by using the questionnaire provided a means of predicting the likely presence of food safety risk factors in the business. In general, those businesses perceived as having poor responses to the management issues were also those that scored low on food safety factors. When the businesses were considered by type (caterers, institutions, retailers and public houses), it was evident that for most issues institutions(e.g. care homes, schools or hospitals) displayed higher mean management scores than the other types as well as showing the best scores for food safety risk factors.
Nearly all management issue questions showed a correlation with the overall food safety score used in the analysis. This suggests that the management issues which had been identified and used were nearly all good indicators of the likely standard of food safety within the business. When analysed by business type, there was variation in the extent of the correlation, but the smaller numbers in each group means that these results have to be treated with some caution.
Five indices which combined management issue questions relating to knowledge, organisation, communications and behaviour/personal were developed. When analysed together, the knowledge index alone was sufficient to explain substantial variability in the food safety score. With respect to individual knowledge questions, those that related most to the food safety score were “How confident are you that management and staff in the food business have sufficient expertise?”; “Does the food business operate continuous learning?”, and “How confident are you that the food business appreciates the overall risk inherent in its business?”
Although validation is necessary to confirm the results found, the results suggest that the questionnaire could be developed further for use by enforcement personnel in assessing management issues within food establishments. The research also indicates that the Agency could usefully develop further its work on increasing the knowledge and understanding of SME food businesses as this is likely to have a positive impact on food safety.
Some of the files on this site may be in a format that your computer can't read. However, you can download Readers and Viewers for the following document types below: