Revolutionary risk management tool to help industry with allergens and safety culture


Campden BRI leads the way in introducing a revolutionary tool, known as Bowtie, to help the food and drink industry manage risk. The tool allows risks to be visualised and communicated in a simple diagram that resembles a bow tie.

It currently helps hundreds of businesses from the largest industries but has yet to be adopted by most food business operators (FBOs). This is despite the great potential to improve their current risk management systems which could boost food safety culture (by highlighting why barriers are in place) and aid allergen management (by identifying new barriers).

Andrew Collins, food safety management systems lead at Campden BRI who demonstrates Bowtie to FBOs, said:

“The current focus on allergen management and food safety culture has put great emphasis on communicating risks. Having begun to introduce Bowtie to the food and drink industry, we’ve found it’s perfect at improving risk communication by allowing FBOs to visualise and easily adapt their processes instead of relying on potentially unclear and less dynamic charts and tables. Put simply, food businesses can use Bowtie to improve their current food safety system by proactively identifying risks and easily adapting their system to incidences and occurrences. Since identifying this tool in other industries that manage risk, we’re keen to help the food sector understand and use this method to help them do the same.”

Coupled with Campden BRI’s expertise in food safety management, Bowtie can be used by food businesses to enhance their HACCP plans by providing an extra level of robustness. The tool makes it easier for FBOs to identify factors that could compromise barriers, helping them put in place additional barriers to prevent a hazard, such as allergens, from occurring and escalating.

As a simple visual tool, FBOs can also ensure their plans are clear and easily understood by staff at all levels.

Collins continued: “The level of detail in the Bowtie can be filtered to ensure the right information is communicated to the intended user. It can be presented at a business level which may be generic or at an operational level that contains more detail. For example, senior managers can see their food safety management system without all the detail an auditor or the technical manager would need. More importantly, factory operators can easily see the whole process so they understand not just what they need to do but why they need to do it.”

Campden BRI has found that this visual adaptability not only avoids confusion and helps improve safety culture, but also allows FBOs to identify more barriers by illustrating where they could lose control of a hazard.

Bowties created for each stage of the supply chain can link up to provide FBOs a timeline perspective from farm to fork, allowing them to track hazards for traceability and identify appropriate barriers.

Along with the publication of Codex’s first-ever code of practice on food allergen management, the recent 2020 revision to the Codex General Principles of Food Hygiene encouraged FBOs to build a positive safety culture and consider food safety management as a whole. In practice, however, changing and sustaining a strong culture can be a challenge.

Bertrand Emond, professional development and culture excellence lead at Campden BRI, said:

“A strong and positive culture is about ensuring all employees do what they should when they should, and this can’t be achieved without good communication. By making this communication visual, Bowtie helps staff understand the hazards and risks in their business and appreciate the impact of their actions on the consumer, company and themselves.”