An Exploratory Study on the Relation between Companies' Food Integrity Climate and Employees' Food Integrity Behavior in Food Businesses

Foods. 2022 Sep 1;11(17):2657. doi: 10.3390/foods11172657.


Given the need to prevent food fraud within the international food supply chain and the current lack of research on food integrity, in this paper, the relation between the organizational food integrity climate and employees' food integrity behavior is examined to understand the role of the individual or psychological dimension in food integrity. The construct of food integrity behavior was introduced and defined, and the conceptual model of the food integrity climate in relation to food integrity behavior was elaborated along with study variables and hypotheses. In the proposed model, the potential moderating role of employees' psychological well-being (i.e., burnout and job stress) was analyzed, and two mediating variables were also proposed (i.e., knowledge and motivation) which both could explain how the prevailing food integrity climate might influence employees' food integrity behavior. Data was collected through convenience sampling in four Belgian food companies with a total of 118 participating employees through a self-assessment questionnaire. Based on the statistical analysis, it was concluded that a well-developed organizational food integrity climate promotes positive employees' food integrity behavior. Specifically, results of this semi-quantitative study demonstrated that the companies' food integrity climate is positively related to the employees' food integrity behavior both directly and indirectly, and that food integrity knowledge is a partial mediator in the relation between food integrity climate and food integrity behavior, while food integrity motivation is a full mediator. Study limitations and implications are also discussed.

Keywords: business ethics; food integrity; food integrity behavior; food integrity climate; knowledge; motivation.