“Food safety is not just about meeting the minimum requirements of the law,” says Najib Salim, RCL FOODS’ Safety, Health, Environment, Risk & Quality (SHERQ) Director. “We want to be best-in-class. We adhere to the highest standards in terms of food safety, and we’re driving a company-wide culture of safety.”

South Africa has multiple laws and regulations that food companies need to abide by, from Regulation 638 (which governs general hygiene requirements for premises and transport) to FSSC and ISO 22000 food safety management systems. But those just cover the basics – and for a business like RCL FOODS, the basics alone aren’t good enough.


Having a company-wide safety culture means making safety everybody’s responsibility.

“We all have to live it,” says Najib, “from the CEO to the general workers and machine operators – and even our visitors and contractors. Everybody who enters our plants must undergo Safety Induction training. It’s a legal obligation, and also the right thing to do. We take it very seriously.”

RCL FOODS’ SHERQ framework promotes behaviours and practices and is all encompassing. “As an employer, RCL FOODS wants to – and must – provide safe working conditions or make interventions to ensure that employees return home safely after a day’s work,” says Najib.


Fostering a culture of safety can be one of the biggest challenges for any business. “It often requires a change in behaviour,” says Najib. “You could’ve hired someone who doesn’t come from a food environment – for example, an engineer or an artisan – who would need to participate in the necessary training to understand the requirements of food safety and its related risks.”

But behavioural change doesn’t end with having watched an induction video. “Nurturing a safety culture is an ongoing activity, because it’s human nature to take an easy route or slip into bad habits,” says Najib. “We have to change those behaviours – and not only when a person walks onto our site. We have to change them permanently, and make health and safety part of our everyday lives.”

  • Safety awareness initiatives.
  • Continuous health and safety education, training and communication.
  • Occupational healthcare clinics.
  • On-site Hazard Incident Risk Assessments (HIRA) and Hazard and Operability Analysis (HAZOP).
  • Implementation of our YouMatter Employee Wellness Programme.


RCL FOODS aims to provide consumers with safe, high-quality food products. To deliver on that promise, we’ve implemented international quality and food safety standards in all our facilities. International Standards Organisation (ISO) principles are embedded in our integrated management systems across the supply chain.

“Consumers have a choice of what to buy,” says Najib. “That choice is not based on minimum safety requirements; it’s based on our reputation for quality, value for money, and their confidence in the product integrity.”

  • Ongoing SHERQ culture, and awareness initiatives and training.
  • Robust, comprehensive product quality processes and controls.
  • Regular safety audits.
  • Regular pathogen testing.
  • Cleaning and hygiene procedures entrenched in our business processes.
  • Implementing procedures to prevent product cross-contamination.
  • Investment in food safety technology.
  • Well-established withdrawal, uplift and recall procedures.


“Organisations often forget that health and safety also include mental health,” says Najib. “What’s happening in our people’s heads and hearts will translate into how they behave and what version of them we encounter on-site.”

That’s why RCL FOODS has established our Employee Wellness Programmes, which provide employees with free access to emotional, legal and financial support. “We’re very aware that our drive to make safety a way of life is all-encompassing,” says Najib. “That includes taking care of the body, mind and soul.”