Performance of safety management systems in Spanish food service establishments in view of their context characteristics

P.A. Luning, A.C. Chinchilla, L. Jacxsens, K.K. Kirezieva, J. Rovira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Food service establishments (FSE) operate under restricted technological and organisational circumstances, making them susceptible to food safety problems as reported frequently. Aim of this study was to get insight in Food Safety Management System (FSMS) performance in different types of FSE in view of their context characteristics. Assessment of fifty Spanish FSE indicated that all work with high-risk products and processes, are at a vulnerable chain position, provide different organisational support, and adapted differently their FSMS to their high-risk context. Hierarchical cluster analysis showed four clusters of FSE differing in organisational characteristics and FSMS activity levels. The largest cluster, including all small restaurants, showed lowest FSMS performance levels and limited organisational support, i.e. lack of safety expertise/support, restricted requirements on operator competences, limited training, restricted employee involvement, and no formalisation. Overall, they apparently did not use sector guidelines or any expert knowledge to design their FSMS. However, some crucial control measures (like cooling and cooking) performed at an average level; they use professional equipment with known capability with only sometimes unstable performance. Only a small cluster of FSE provided supportive organisational conditions and their systems perform at an average to advanced level. They invested in best available equipment, some tested and adapted to their circumstances, and acquired expertise support to design and independently evaluate their system. FSE with insufficient organisational conditions suffer both a risky context and low activity levels of control and assurance activities, which increases the risk of insufficient safety of meals served. The insights of this study could support food authorities to target their attention to specific groups of FSE and enhance supporting activities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-340
JournalFood Control
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • critical control point
  • foodborne disease outbreaks
  • techno-managerial approach
  • microbiological quality
  • hazard analysis
  • processing plants
  • catering industry
  • french fries
  • haccp
  • implementation

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