How to Implement an Effective Whistleblowing System in the Food & Drink Sector

The term ‘Whistleblowing’ has not always been a term widely associated with the Food and Drink industry and has been more widely connected with other industries such as Financial Services and the Healthcare sector. However, that changed in 2018 with the publication of version 8 of the BRC Global Standards that made it mandatory…

Blog7th Jun 2021

By Sean McAuley

The term Whistleblowing’ has not always been a term widely associated with the Food and Drink industry and has been more widely connected with other industries such as Financial Services and the Healthcare sector.

However, that changed in 2018 with the publication of version 8 of the BRC Global Standards that made it mandatory for Food manufacturers and suppliers to implement a confidential reporting system to conform with the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety (Clause 1.1.6). 

A vital component of these standards is that businesses should introduce:

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

The standard is a clear attempt to ensure that businesses do not fall foul of breaches related to food safety and its regulations and provides a much-needed steer for Directors and Senior Management across the food service industry to guide them in how they can effectively manage food safety in their business and supply chains.

In order to ensure that the standard achieves its aims it is vital to the success of any whistleblowing programme that it is implemented effectively otherwise businesses will continue to remain vulnerable to food standard violations. Reporting a concern in the workplace can be difficult.  It is therefore, vital to establish a trustworthy whistleblowing process that’s clear and accessible for employees. Here are our tips for implementing a whistleblowing system in a workplace:

Support and Protection – Whistleblowing laws both in the UK and in the EU protects whistleblowers from detrimental treatment if they expose wrongdoing. Businesses should make it clear to staff who come forward that they will be supported and protected from reprisals. Facilitate an open-door policy to encourage employees to come forward.

Accessibility – Ensure you offer a variety of flexible reporting channels which improve the likelihood of an issue being reportedPromote relevant external reporting routes such as an independent and external whistleblowing provider. This will provide assurances that the business wants to treat wrongdoing seriously.

Confidentiality – 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.

Get the communication right – Failure to effectively promote a whistleblowing reporting system will likely result in a low level of take-up. Ensure that the system is widely promoted to raise awareness and build trust. Provide training for all staff on the importance of whistleblowing and the common types of risks that businesses are exposed to in your industry.

AAB People is a global whistleblowing service provider for many businesses in the Food and Drinks sector. If you would like more information on how we can help your business please don’t hesitate to contact us.

By Sean McAuley

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