Wednesday, 14 November 2018 14:51

How supporting whistleblowers can enhance food safety in the food & drinks industry.

Today the food sector is one of the largest and most important areas of economic productivity in almost every country in the world. With expanding consumer demand, businesses can naturally be exposed to unsafe and illegal practices across their service industry.

Such practices have seen an increase in food recalls triggered by greater consumer awareness and increased regulation about the safety of foods. This has resulted in many businesses and food service providers introducing measures to protect their businesses and enhance their food safety programmes.

To combat unethical practice, many businesses have instructed their suppliers to provide them with assurances by obtaining a standard in global food safety such as the BRC global standard. The BRC Global Standard for safety is a certification standard for compliance to industry best practices.

As recently documented in version 8 of the BRC Global Standards, a vital component in these standards is the assurance that businesses introduce -

  1. A confidential reporting system to enable staff to report concerns relating to safety, integrity, quality and legality.
  2. The whistleblowing mechanism for reporting concerns must be clearly notified to staff to ensure they understand the confidential reporting process.
  3. Companies senior management shall have a process in place for assessing concerns, recording assessments, and where possible details of actions taken.

A robust whistleblowing solution is one of the most effective means to deter wrongdoing in an organisation. These standards provide a much-needed steer for Directors and Senior Management across the food service industry to move food safety and the fight against unethical practices up their corporate agenda.

It is vital to the success of any whistleblowing programme that staff are aware of their protections under relevant whistleblowing legislation and feel comfortable to come forward and speak up.

In the UK, The Public Interest Disclosure Act protects whistleblowers from detrimental treatment if they expose wrongdoing. The UK Food Standards Agency applies the same level of protection to personnel who disclose a qualifying disclosure such as a criminal offence, a breach of a legal obligation or a danger to the health and safety of any individual.

Here are our tips for implementing a whistleblowing system in a workplace:

  • Make it clear to staff who come forward that they will be supported and be protected from reprisals
  • Provide employees with a mechanism to raise a concern in confidence in case they do not want their identity to be disclosed without their prior consent.
  • Promote relevant external reporting routes such as an independent and external whistleblowing provider. This will provide assurances that the business wants to treat wrongdoing seriously.
  • Ensure whistleblowers receive adequate feedback and support when they raise a concern
  • Provide training for all staff on the importance of whistleblowing, their protections under the legislation and the common types of risks that businesses are exposed to

SeeHearSpeakUp is a global whistleblowing service provider. If you would like more information on how we can help your business contact the sales team on +44 (0) 1224 625111.