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Food Safety Culture in Nigerias Food Industry: Creating a

Behavioral-Based Food Safety Management System Development

1.0 Introductions
Recent global food safety and quality issues, food product recalls has become a time
bomb without no boarders. Food safety and quality awareness is at an all-time high, as
new and emerging threats to the food supply chain are being recognized, while the food
supply chains are becoming more complex and challenging owing to difficulty in food
traceability from different suppliers in the world.

As a food safety and quality professional, our number one objective is to create a food
safety culture in Nigeria. Yet with 50,000 new cases of food poisoning yearly, low hygiene
levels and safety which are prevalent in all six regions of Nigeria are not what they
should be. I always think about the risks in todays modern food system especially about
the recent failure of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) in controlling
food product recalls in recent times in terms of eliminating food safety issues and crisis
within the food facilities and how to improve the food safety and quality performance
within food organization or area of responsibility.

First thoughts that come to mind is creating a bigger or better food safety program? But
in-depth analysis reveal that my intentions maybe missing the mark. The best idea since
I realized the big picture on the wall with HACCP in-capabilities to prevent major world
food product recalls. Hence, the real solution is not a food safety program development-
but to create a food safety culture. Though, there is a big difference between the two.

Culture is a word that is getting used often in todays society, Its been muttered by
every frustrated leader, in every company, in the every of the business world. Sadly,
their terms of culture is based on fundamentally Corporate culture meaning
changing/turning around the way things are done. But corporate culture is the sum of
everything that makes up the modern workplace. It is also the stated values of the
organization. And, more importantly, it is the unstated values that have never been
codifiedyet which every employee fully understands. It includes the symbols of the
organization. Some are obvious, like the company logo or the mission and vision
statements that hang so prominently in the main lobby.
Company culture is a big issue. If you want to reach your potential as a business, you
need a workplace culture that is united totally united behind your cause. Of course,
for food-related organisations, creating a culture of food safety is critical. It can make or
break your business.

To the food safety and quality professional, culture may be one of those terms that
seems a little fuzzy or maybe even abstract. It may be hard for us to objectively grab
the concept. You might feel much more comfortable talking about specific microbes, food
safety standards, and process controls. We often consider these the hard science, while
giving regard to organizational culture and human behavior as Soft science

However, looking at foodborne disease trends over the past few decades, its clear to me
that the soft science is still the hard science. We wont make dramatic improvements in
reducing the global burden of foodborne disease, especially in certain parts of the food
system and world, until we get much better at influencing and changing human behavior
(Soft science). Hence, leading us to the definition of safety culture.

The safety culture of an organisation is the product of an

individual and group values, attitudes competencies and patterns
of behaviour that determine the commitment to, and the style and
proficiency of an organisations Health and Safety program

So what can we improve with food safety culture? And what makes a culture of food
safety so transformative? What are the benefits of a strong food safety culture? How to
measure your food safety culture? How do a food safety culture looks like?

This article reviews all the above questions with detailed analysis of Nigeria Food safety
Culture Challenges and while its highlights National Food Safety Policy and its
Implementation Strategy which would help in the development of behavioural- based
food safety management needed in Nigerian Food Industry. This resource/article is
designed to help food businesses shape and improve their food safety culture .


Over the years, various Government in Nigeria has tried in one form or the other to make
provisions for the safety and wholesomeness of the nations food supply. As far back as 1971
to date, amongst other important functions, it should be noted that The Federal Ministry of
Health is has the sole responsible for the formulation of National policies, guidelines and
regulations on food hygiene and safety, as well as the monitoring of implementation. It is also
responsible for nutritive value of food, food hygiene and safety, NAFDAC is presently the only
government parastatal responsible for the control of imported and locally processed foods
and bottled water at Federal and State levels.

Standards Organization of Nigeria is responsible for formulation and enforcement of set

standards on the composition of imported and locally manufactured food. Ministry of
Agriculture is responsible for good agricultural practices and monitoring of new agricultural

The National Food Hygiene and Safety policy is an integral part of the Nigerian Health Policy
which are both based on achieving health for all Nigerians through the adoption and
implementing of a modern food and effective food system, though Nigeria launched its
National Policy on Food safety and its implementation strategy(NPFIS) in 2014 with its
implementation ongoing. The Policy documents Outlines existing framework on:
(a) Public establishments and their mandates, institutional arrangement needed for efficient
implementation of the National Policy safety and;
(b) Its implementation strategy while describing the structure, roles, and responsibilities,
(c) While describing the implementation strategies of the policy which includes the goals,
objectives, strategies and activities and finally effective monitoring and evaluation of food
safety along the food chain (farm-to-table).


What is food safety culture?

Food safety culture consists of the prevailing attitudes, values and

practices related to food safety that are taught directly and indirectly to
new employees.

There are 3 parts to a food safety culture:

1. What you can visibly see. For example, your premises, your equipment,
what staff are doing when you walk in, your documents and records.
2. The spoken rules and values. For example, managers communications,
training, rewards schemes.
3. And finally, deep beneath the surface you have the organisations
underlying values. These are the hardest to see and are certainly the
hardest to access, but their impact on the food safety and quality culture
within an organisation make them impossible to ignore.

Why does it matter?

Because, put simply, unsafe behaviour results in unsafe food. But there are other
business benefits that go much further than that. A strong food safety culture will
result in more engaged and proactive staff and the eventual result of this is a more
profitable, cost-effective and better organised business.

So, why do some staff and businesses fail to comply?

Weve identified 4 key reasons:

1. Optimistic bias: It wont happen to me

2. Illusion of control: I know what Im doing, so nothing will go wrong.
3. Cognitive dissonance: I know Im doing something wrong, but there is a
4. Attitudinal ambivalence: There are more important matters

How to measure food safety culture

We have a framework in place to measure food safety culture, which looks at 20

different aspects of a work environment, all of which fall into one of the 4 Ps.

Proactivity: Does a company understand where their food safety risks

come from? Do they monitor outbreaks in other companies? Are they on top
of legislative changes and industry innovations? Are they forward-looking?

Purpose: To what extent is food safety part of the companys vision? Do

they have a strategy in place to improve food safety? Are there regular
objectives related to food safety?

People: Are the people in the company empowered in relation to food

safety? Do they act if a CCP fails without calling the manager? Are they
trained well in food safety? Are they rewarded for positive food safety
behaviours? Do they feel food safety is an important part of their career?

Process: Are HACCP systems and other food safety protocols implemented
consistently across the year? Is food safety treated cohesively across

What does a strong food safety& culture looks like? Visit.Food-safety-culture-poster.pdf

What are the strong food safety& culture checklist? Visit food-safety-culture-


Recent increase in micro, small and medium food industries and enterprises coupled with
proliferation of eateries has compounded the food safety policy in Nigeria. Increasing
demographics and changing lifestyles has encouraged food outlets and vendors with no
food safety and hygiene knowledge in our urban centres dominate our daily activities at
least one meal is consumed away from home. Most of Nigerian food industries and
businesses sometime engage in food adulteration and food-fraud which are not in
compliance with best practices that ensure food safety. Widespread of ready-to eat foods
made from different unverified raw materials suppliers around the world portend a great
danger to public health with have negative impact on our National and international
standards, hence leading Nigerias food product to be non-competitive in the International

When consumers pick up nutritional products from the shelf in the retail markets in Nigeria,
they are putting their trust in food brands who they knew would deliver high-quality and
safe products. It is however, important taking that trust very seriously by food
manufacturers and processors in Nigeria as the quality and safety of the food supply chain
is essential rather than thinking on meeting production target thereby relegating quality
monitoring and management to the background, and hence its their duty to arrange
processes and programs in place to ensure that food brands are constantly focused on
earning it. Sincerely, we are just learning food safety and quality culture from different food
multi-nationals who have made Nigeria food industry their home. We are still in the learning
phase as a developing nation.

Accordingly to a survey of 8,000 shoppers at Shoprite, Spar and Justrite conducted 2017 in
Nigeria by Food Choices Limited Market research team, some food brands has been
recognized as the most trusted chocolate brand.

The survey also showed that 70% of consumers place a high importance on established
brand trust when purchasing a new product, and 63% say that it is extremely or very
important that a new item they are considering for purchase comes from a brand they

One of the most important things been focused is creating a culture of food safety and
quality in Nigeria a culture where the consumer is always the priority.
For example, the implementation of FSMA in the U.S represents a shift in the focus on the
food safety and quality from reaction to prevention. With which many companies
changed their perceptions despite been not new topic due to FDAs Food Safety
Modernization Act (FSMA) in the food supply chain.

Its believe that one of the most important things that food and beverage processors in
Nigeria should be doing to ensure compliance with food regulators and an effective
communication across the organization. Everyone working within food companies should
understand their role and responsibilities and must be committed to know compliance,
what is stands for and how that they can contribute in ensuring quality and safe food with
its implications of breaching food safety best practices/principles and its outcomes.


The business benefits of a strong food safety culture are: Maturity continuum
which covers:


Lack of leadership. Leadership from top to bottom.

Flexible morals Integrity.
Imbedded in priorities. Imbedded in values
Reactive. Proactive
Lack of employee engagement Employees are engaged
Stagnant behaviour Drives behavioural Changes
Unsafe FSMS. safe FSMS



To develop and maintain food safety& quality culture which could lead to pathway of
behavioural based food safety management system by food manufacturers in Nigeria,
there are three main concepts of focus needed to address:

Robust food safety plan: Every food manufacturing sites/plant in Nigeria must have a
plan that identifies potential hazards, the corresponding preventive controls, and the
assignment of who controls each action. Employees must be trained in the development
and application of risk-based preventive controls and execute the sites food safety plan.
For each preventive control, the plan designates who is responsible to address these
hazards. For example, having an understanding of the risk of extraneous materials found
within a commodity is important when manufacturing products like snack bars with
peanuts. Because we know that shells, glass or stones could potentially be found mixed in
with raw peanuts, we take the appropriate actions to ensure theyre not in the final

Behavior-guiding principles: Every good food manufacturing plants in Nigeria should

have a behaviour-guiding food safety policies which would be introduced as initiatives
called Pledges which would support the food-safety culture in the food supply-chain
functions. The Pledge is a set of behavior-guiding principles that influence employees day-
to-day lives. Introducing such initiatives by the end of two-plus years of its
implementation, there would surely be a strong cultural shift as employees would have
adhere to, embrace, and apply the behaviors at work.

The Pledge elements relate to fundamental behaviors that are important in a large, global
supply chain organization, such as demonstrating leadership skills, being accountable for
work, and driving improvement every day. All of these behaviors are critical in fostering a
strong food safety culture of excellence because they are the foundation upon which
decisions are made and actions taken. Also its would set-up a clear whats expected of
every employee to ensure quality throughout the supply chain. By having this united food
safety culture of excellence in place.

Product protection: Nigerian traditional markets is majorly filled with mutilated food
products, which after purchase maybe about to or have expired after long stay on the
distribution/retail channels and this often affects the Product food safety. Its however
important for Food manufacturers to introduce a Program called Protect our Product Policy
in Nigeria. A Protect our Product Policy is a program which with its intents is to protect
customers, brands and the quality through different risk management. Protect our Product
(PoP) program ensures that every day, everywhere, every product is created with safety in
mind. PoP amplifies a culture of food safety and quality across the organization and drives
awareness, knowledge-building, and the focus necessary to sustain and protect our
products. A PoP program has four active workstreams to drive targeted improvement:
microbiological, package integrity, pest control, and extraneous matter. In addition to the
PoP program, structural policies should be in place to cover sanitation, control of physical
contaminants, hazard analysis for ingredients, and packaging. These policies drive a
proactive way of thinking when it comes to monitoring for contaminants or hazards, avoiding
concerns before they arise. They ensure that all products are held to the same standard of
quality excellence.