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Just culture and the reporting of food safety incidents

Małgorzata Wiśniewska (Business Economics Department, Faculty of Management, The University of Gdańsk, Sopot, Poland)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 24 March 2022

Issue publication date: 2 January 2023




Food scandals and reports of food withdrawals from the market could be caused by a lack of internal reporting and speaking up about non-compliances. The aim of this paper is to examine and explain the concept of just culture (JC) and to explain the essence of other subcultures, including the culture of voice (whistleblowing), which can more effectively support the reporting of food safety (FS) incidents and, above all, enhance an overall food safety culture (FSC).


Parallels are drawn between the use of the term “just culture” and of reporting of non-compliances as a decisive factor in avoiding FS incidents. The evolution of the term is developed via the literature on JC from other high-risk sectors, particularly healthcare.


The concept of JC and its meaning in the food sector was explained. Many parallels from the healthcare have been identified and explained with regard to the reporting on FS incidents. The definitions of JC in the food sector, of whistleblowing and whistleblower were proposed. Classification of FS incidents allowing for their more effective monitoring and reporting, as well as a reporting verification matrix (RVM), has been developed.


There is still little work on the necessity and the organizational conditions conducive to FS incident reporting. JC in the food sector is completely unknown and requires wide dissemination among scientists and practitioners. This paper will be of great interest to industry, academics and public health officials and can be used as a platform for discussions and activities aimed at implementing JC in the food sector.



Wiśniewska, M. (2023), "Just culture and the reporting of food safety incidents", British Food Journal, Vol. 125 No. 1, pp. 302-317.



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