Organisational forgetting: The food safety risk associated with unintentional knowledge loss

Louise Manning, Wyn Morris, Ian Birchmore

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (SciVal)
49 Downloads (Pure)


Organisational forgetting is associated with unintentional knowledge loss that makes both food businesses and consumers vulnerable to a food safety incident. It is essential that food businesses have strategies and processes in place to minimise unintentional knowledge loss to ensure that essential knowledge is retained, maintained and stays valid.

Scope and approach
The aim of this paper is to consider the risk associated with unintentional food safety knowledge loss at individual, organisational and inter-organisational levels. The research approach employed was to undertake a review of existing literature to frame the conceptual research. Screening of both academic and grey literature demonstrated a distinct knowledge gap i.e., there is limited previous research considering the concept of unintentional knowledge loss and its impact on food safety. Case study examples explore the academic theory in more depth.

Key findings and conclusions
Three aspects of organisational forgetting are considered in the context of food safety: organisational amnesia, organisational memory decay, and supply chain déjà-vu. The first two aspects operate at the organisational level and the third at the supply chain level. To overcome the risk of unintentional loss, organisational and interorganisational knowledge needs to be effectively mapped and a knowledge retention policy needs to be developed, implemented and maintained that addresses all types of organisational and interorganisational knowledge, but especially food safety knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-251
Number of pages10
JournalTrends in Food Science and Technology
Issue numberA
Early online date08 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2021


  • Food chain
  • Forgetting
  • Knowledge
  • Loss
  • Risk
  • Vulnerability


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