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Do businesses get the food poisoning they deserve? The importance of food safety culture

Christopher James Griffith (Von Holy Consulting CC, Bellville, South Africa)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 20 April 2010




Food poisoning remains a major public health problem and 2009 has seen major outbreaks with both financial and social implications. The aim of this paper is to examine whether a business gets the food poisoning it deserves and to assess the role of management including food safety culture in outbreaks.


Factors influencing the likelihood of a business causing food poisoning are considered and discussed using four categories or variables. These are then applied in a case study of an E coli O157 outbreak.


The risk of a business causing food poisoning depends on the types of foods produced, the people consuming the food and where the business sources its raw materials. These need to be considered in relation to the hygiene behaviour of the food handlers employed. Food safety does not happen by accident and to produce safe food consistently, especially on a large scale, requires management. Management includes the systems that are used and the organizational food safety culture of compliance with those systems. Food poisoning will never be totally prevented; however, to a considerable extent, a business does get the food poisoning it deserves.


This paper presents a novel approach to understanding the risk of a business causing food poisoning and will be of use to investigators, food safety inspectors, educators and industry.



Griffith, C.J. (2010), "Do businesses get the food poisoning they deserve? The importance of food safety culture", British Food Journal, Vol. 112 No. 4, pp. 416-425.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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