Why is Training Important?
Failures in food safety can happen when food handlers and other relevant personnel do not know how to identify specific hazards and implement effective control measures. Food safety training can help workers understand their role and responsibility in preventing unsafe food reaching the consumer and also provides them with essential knowledge and skills to handle food hygienically.
What are the legal requirements?
There is no legal requirement for food handlers to complete an accredited food safety and hygiene course. But food business operators must ensure food handlers are supervised, instructed and/ trained in food safety matters commensurate with their work activities. This involves identifying necessary competencies required for a specific role and/or task. There are also additional legal requirements for those responsible for the development and maintenance of the HACCP system to receive adequate training in the application of HACCP principle, and training programmes person working in certain food sectors.
Be clear very clear about the rationale for food safety training as this will help measure success. Take a risk-based approach by profiling which hazards pose the greatest risk to the business. Keep the food safety message clear and make sure expectations are understood by everyone. Be clear in why food safety is important and the consequences for non-compliance. Gain knowledge and new skills is not enough to provide safe food. Training should focus on influencing and developing the right behaviours. Engage and motivate at a personal level by helping people understand why food safety is important to them.
Unsupervised contractors should be inducted to provide them with sufficient training commensurate with the role.
Trained Versus Competent
Training employees is not enough as they must be able to demonstrate competency in implementing correct food safety procedures. Trained employees can successfully complete an online quiz or formal examination without correctly answering questions on critical topics, such as allergenic hazards, temperature control, cleaning and disinfection and personal hygiene. Competency checks must be relevant to the specific role and can demonstrate the employee can perform the task correctly. Effective methods can include observation of food hygiene practices, practical demonstrations, simulations, asking closed ( yes or no), open-ended ( what, why, how, when and who, where) and hypothetical questions ( what if) , checking completing and accuracy of record for prerequisite programmes and critical control points.
Documenting and Recording Training Activities
Training activities must be documented and recorded to provide evidence for internal/ external verification and if necessary, support a due diligence defence in court.
Training records should be available at all times and state the following:
- Employee name and confirmation of attendance (e.g. signature)
- Date(s) and duration of training
- Course title or course contents applicable
- Name of training provider or trainer
- Any reference to materials used in internal training activities, including which version
Practical observational and verbal assessments must be documents. This can be achievement by completing a competency-based checklist.
What to learn more?