plier food safety and quality auditing program. Managing the program globally
enables insight into a multitude of companies, their compliance programs and, by
default, their behavior and engagement with their food safety programs. Personally, my role is not just to drive an effective food safety culture at Subway through
demonstrating the right behavior and making informed, factual, risk-based decisions
but also, to a greater extent, ensuring our suppliers understand how their behavior
can influence compliance, specifically the programs they manage which are associated with the Subway food safety and quality expectations. Due to the nature of the
relationship with our suppliers, and unlike third-party audits, I can provide coaching
and support, particularly where issues are identified or corrective action information that is supplied may be lacking, so I
must lead by example to drive appropriate
behaviors both internally and through our
supply chain. Personally within my organization, we utilize several audit companies to conduct audits on our behalf, which is the program I oversee. Following the
completion of the audits, I spend a significant amount of time with our suppliers
working through corrective actions linked to food safety and quality. Our 2018 audit
program will focus on not just the standard food safety and quality requirements but
also the connection between personnel and their food safety programs.
King: My current role is helping the corporate retail foodservice and sales business design and implement effective enterprise-based food safety management systems that enhance customer experience and brand loyalty.
FSM: How do you define food safety culture in your (or any) organization, and do you
think these definitions differ between management and line workers?
Weichelt: A culture of food safety is a newer philosophy that is just now being
implemented in the foodservice industry. The foodservice industry is known for a
culture of hospitality, and adding in a culture of food safety is a good fit because so
many people work in the industry to serve our guests the best food and experience.
Clarke: Actually, defining food safety culture and making sure the term is truly
understood can be challenging given the sheer size of the business, with the significant number of individual Subway locations positioned in a multitude of geographical regions and the large number of employees/suppliers. Fortunately, due to the
increasing study and work completed in the area of food safety culture, I believe
there is more awareness of the term; particularly, our suppliers and Subway management are developing more of an appreciation for food safety culture, which needs
to be cascaded out into all areas of the business. I’ve no doubt there is a significant
difference in understanding how behaviors can impact food safety between management and operational staff working in the restaurants. This is linked to a number of
factors, essentially true awareness and understanding of the fundamentals of food
safety, both the potential issues but also the benefits of maintaining effective management systems. Although it might be perceived that restaurant employees, due
to the nature of the work and also the turnover of the workforce, might not have a
strong grasp of food safety, the design of the restaurants, with the majority of the
food handling and preparation taking place in full public view, I believe encourages
correct behaviors. I believe often frontline food handlers to have a better awareness
and understanding of food safety, because they are trained and practicing the activi-
FOOD SAFETY CULTURE
ties every day; however, I’m not entirely
certain they understand what the term
“food safety culture” specifically means.
Management, on the other hand, may
have an understanding but hold a more
theoretical than practical view, especially if working in a function that is not
specifically food safety or quality.
King: We are in the business of public health services and systems design,
so food safety culture is our business. In
many foodservice and sales businesses,
food safety culture differs between management and line workers, principally
because they are not aligned to each
other using defined metrics, responsibilities and accountabilities across the
FSM: Using the maturity model,1 where
do you think your company is on the
scale? Your industry? And why?
Weichelt: The restaurant industry
runs the gamut. Many larger organizations have dedicated food safety departments, which helps breed a culture
around the importance of food safety.
Yet, at many smaller operations that
don’t have these dedicated departments,
building that culture is a bit trickier.
We, along with the industry as a whole,
know that food safety is an important
and necessary component for the industry. Yet, some companies are still
struggling with how to best take their
knowledge and understanding gained
from their training to become a certified
food protection manager and overlay
it with current policies and procedures.
We continue to work with restaurants of
all sizes to assist with best practices to
instill this culture across the industry.
Clarke: Without completing the full
assessment, it is difficult to ascertain
accurately the true scale of the maturity
of the business, but I would suggest
overall somewhere between stage 2 and
3, although this would be variable and
dependent on the different capability
“The foodservice industry is known for a culture of hospitality, and adding in a culture of food safety is a good fit...”
William L. Weichelt
“...there is a significant difference in understanding how
behaviors can impact food safety between management
and operational staff...”