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Safer meal management, better health: the importance of food safety culture for collective catering businesses

Safer meal management, better health? Of course yes! Food plays a key role in shaping our well-being, our habits and our nourishment. It defines our culture and heritage while social eating helps us connect with each other and our communities.
However, when safety standards are not met, food can become a risk. According to WHO, one in ten people are affected by foodborne diseases every year. The positive news? Foodborne diseases are avoidable and corporate culture is one of the strongest drivers of ensuring food safety as a collective catering business.
Safer meal management - checking food temperature
A strong food safety culture: a prerequisite for health and quality in the long run

Demonstrating food hygiene as a business has become a legal requirement. However creating a strong food safety culture means going beyond formal regulations. 

'It means the daily work, thoughts and actions of everyone involved, from business owners and management to employees and kitchen staff, aimed at ensuring safe products and services. It means taking pride in producing harmless food, recognizing that high quality products must be safe for consumption, and that safety is a top priority' says Barbara Valentini, nutritionist and Markas' Head of Food Quality Assurance.  

But apart from the legal requirements why do food service suppliers need a strong food safety culture and why do they need it now more than ever? Nowadays, the food system is fragmented and complex while the pandemic has for sure put hygiene and security in the limelight. This high level of complexity requires shared values, attitudes and beliefs towards food safety processes in order to protect both, consumers and businesses. 

'From a consumer point of view, a true food safety culture guarantees safe meal management, and therefore, it protects end users from foodborne risks and diseases. In other words, it guarantees a safe and healthy eating experience. From a business perspective, a strong food culture safeguards a company's reputation, minimizes economic losses and reduces food waste' continues Barbara.
meal management - man cutting vegetables
What does it take?

As a collective catering organization, incorporating food hygiene and safety practices in the daily tasks is essential. But how can this be achieved? 

According to Barbara, 'commitment on behalf of employees and management regarding food handling and production processes is vital. Leaders and managers need to establish the right course of action and actively involve all staff making sure that there are sufficient resources available'.

Without doubt training also plays a key role. However, when it comes to food safety, focusing solely on a one-way training, where the instructor provides guidelines and the employees listen is not enough.
safe meal management training
'Raising awareness of the importance of food hygiene and engaging personnel is crucial. An open and clear communication between all food staff, including understanding and highlighting nonconformities and expectations is necessary. Employees should be able to openly ask questions and fully understand potential problems that can compromise food security.  

For example, one of Markas' latest training workshops aimed at educating cooks about sous-vide cooking and help them understand the right techniques. Throughout this two-day workshop, participants had the chance to understand the importance of shared attitudes and food safety through interactive cooking activities and knowledge exchange among the different teams
meal management training - how to cook