Food safety culture assessment using a comprehensive mixed-methods approach: A comparative study in dairy processing organisations in an emerging economy

Shingai P. Nyarugwe, Anita Linnemann, Loveness K. Nyanga, Vincenzo Fogliano, Pieternel A. Luning*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Food safety challenges are a global concern especially in emerging economies, which are in the midst of developmental changes. The challenges are directly or indirectly related to the behaviour and decision-making of personnel, and to an organisation's food safety culture. This study evaluated the prevailing food safety culture in three Zimbabwean dairy companies of different size (multinational, large and medium) using a comprehensive mixed-methods approach. Four key elements were assessed, namely enabling conditions, employee characteristics, actual behaviour and microbial safety performance. Card-aided interviews provided data on enabling conditions, and questionnaires and storytelling on employee characteristics. Observations and microbial analysis assessed actual behaviour and microbial safety performance, respectively. The multinational company demonstrated a more proactive food safety culture compared to the other companies, which operated at an active level as exhibited by multiple inconsistencies in the enabling conditions and compliance behaviour. The large company had a moderate microbial safety performance even though it operated in a potentially risky situation, which could have been mitigated by the food safety management system. The medium-sized company had a poor microbial safety performance likely related to noncompliance with sanitation requirements, negative attitudes towards personal hygiene and an ambivalent attitude towards sanitation. Our study demonstrated the ability of the mixed-methods approach to assess and distinguish an organisation's prevailing food safety culture into identified classification levels (reactive, active, proactive). Specifically, storytelling elicited respondents to share stories, which reflected the food safety and hygiene control attitudes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-196
JournalFood Control
Volume84
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • Card-aided interview
  • Food safety behaviour
  • Food safety culture
  • Mixed-methods approach
  • Storytelling

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