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Food safety: good governance guide for directors, executives and business owners

Food industry and trade Food safety Biosecurity New Zealand
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Food safety has always been important for New Zealand’s food producers, manufacturers and marketers. Our consumers have a legitimate expectation that our food is safe, and our local and international reputations depend upon excellence in food safety outcomes. We have an enviable reputation and track record, features that we must protect, nurture and enhance.

Food safety, similar to workplace health and safety, is now a business essential. Once seen as a cost burden, the reality is that the cost of having unsafe food is greater.

Food safety failures can be costly in terms of direct costs, such as lost production time and product recalls, but other costs such as loss of business focus, reputation and consumer trust can weigh more heavily. Collectively, they can lead to company failure. The efficient response is to develop organisation-wide systems and organisational culture that can recognise, evaluate and prevent or mitigate these issues. Done well – food safety can lead to a competitive advantage. Done poorly – it is a disaster waiting to happen.

This document will help directors to understand the importance of food safety governance, their responsibilities and role in assuring food safety performance. It will also discuss the tools to monitor and verify food safety system performance; the essentials of good food safety governance. This document, while largely written for directors and boards, is equally relevant to senior executives and business owners in the wider food industry.

This guidance document is set out in two parts.

  • Part I: Food safety – the board’s role – sets out the case for food safety governance, the legislative requirements, and the leadership role that boards of directors must play in the governance of food safety.
  • Part II: a Director’s briefcase – includes a director's food safety checklist, sets out the legal environment, key roles in food safety regulation, what comprises a food safety system, examples of food safety performance measures, and an introduction to food safety risk.
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