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Investigating Regulatory Compliance: Key Issues in the Management of Food Safety Risk in the Fast Food Industry in Jamaica

  • McNeil, Roy Henry.
Publication Date
Oct 30, 2019
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Food safety is a critical issue that must be implemented and monitored in all aspects of food delivery to the public. Consumers at fast food restaurants are at risk if the proper food safety measures are not applied. Understanding why safe food practices are not followed can help management identify risks and delegate resources accordingly. In the study, the researcher adopted the constructivism view, as it is believed that there is no single reality or truth and that reality is created by individuals and groups. It is also considered that people gain knowledge and understanding through the combination of their own experiences and ideas.Fast food restaurant managers/owners are responsible for making sure employees follow safe food handling practices so as to ensure compliance with government regulations and reduce the risk of customers becoming ill from consuming unsafe food. Therefore, this study aims to investigate regulatory compliance in the fast food industry in Jamaica by focusing on the management of food safety risk as a strategy that may be used to improve compliance with national food safety regulations. It seeks to ascertain managers'/owners’ perspectives on the factors contributing to noncompliance. Exploratory interviews with fifteen fast food managers/owners were conducted.Manual analysis of interview transcripts was done (Appendix 7.5). Major thematic codes identified in this study included Operational Challenges; Staff Training; Roles of the Manager; Food Safety Inspector related Challenges. The data was visually mapped and relationships between different themes and theoretical ideas were represented. Based on the four major themes identified, thirteen related subthemes were identified.The results indicated that Food Safety Inspectors must be clear and consistent with their actions to ensure that fast food restaurants are in compliance with national regulations. To do otherwise may result in Food Safety Inspectors being seen as barriers to compliance. The study discovered a significant lapse in the number of inspections of fast food restaurants taking place around the city, as 60% of the interviewees indicated that they have yet to be inspected. This has implications for the Fast Food Industry as to how food safety is ensured and that contaminated food may be passed on to the consumers. Future research is needed to determine the rationale behind this lapse as the safety of the public is at risk. This study also discovered communication challenges between Food Safety Inspectors (FSIs) and managers/owners. It was clear that there is a need for FSIs to focus on the development of soft skills as poor interpersonal skills impacted compliance.

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