Food Safety Train-The-Trainer Programs

By Margaret Spence Krewen 

In response to the increase in demand for certified foodhandlers, many foodservice companies are choosing to provide in-house food safety training instead of outsourcing. By training owners, managers, chefs or HR professionals with a “one-two” punch of management level food safety training and a Train-the-Trainer Program, organizations can provide customized in-house training programs, often at a fraction of the cost of outside food safety training providers.

Some industry leaders are leveraging food safety training as a marketing tool, while protecting their reputation and bottom line. They set the gold standard by certifying all of their food handlers instead of the legislated minimum standard. The result? Increased food safety training protects customers, builds trust and improves employee morale by building a strong food safety culture.

An effective food safety Train-the-Trainer Program provides participants with both theory and practical experience needed to support participants in designing and facilitating successful training programs. While food safety Train- the-Trainer programs vary in length of duration, course content should be similar. In order to understand how adults learn differently than children, reference should be given to one or more reputable adult learning theorists. While there are many different theorists to choose from, they all teach relatively the same thing: As humans, we all possess unique personalities, which influence how we prefer to learn and teach.

A Train- the-Trainer course curriculum content should include:

  • A solid understanding of “Androgogy”, the concepts and principles of teaching adults
  • How adults learn
  • Learning retention in adults
  • Various training styles
  • The roles and responsibilities of being a trainer
  • Competencies or characteristics of a successful trainer
  • Course design: How to create an informative and engaging lesson plan

An effective food safety Train-the-Trainer program also provides participants with tools to help support them in becoming an effective trainer. When shopping different programs, be sure to compare templates such as form letters, questionnaires (pre-course and feedback), ”ice breaker” exercises and trainer “Tricks of the Trade” tips.

Before choosing which food safety Train- the-Trainer program to purchase, compare how the vendor provides a forum for course participants to practice delivering the training. According to Adult Theorist guru Malcolm Knowles, true adult learning occurs through early, direct application of the learning. Adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction. Relevance and application to their job or personal life is essential for “buy-in”. Participants need to know how this subject will solve a problem or improve their situation?

Finally, collaborative sharing of real-life experiences supports an effective learning environment. Food safety Train- the-Trainer facilitators must be skilled at involving participants in the learning process by encouraging them to share their past experiences with classmates. Before making your training decision, consider not only the cost and content, but also the facilitator’s qualifications and teaching style. A reputable food safety Train- the-Trainer vendor should be open to sharing their teaching philosophies and style while being accessible to answering all of your questions.

Top Ten Characteristics for Effective Food Safety Train- the-Trainer Programs:

  1. Provide a healthy mix of theory and practical application for course participants.
  2. Theory must provide a clear understanding of how adults learn differently from children.
  3. Curriculum explores required competencies and characteristics of successful trainers.
  4. Explore and support participant’s course goals – How can they leave the course a better trainer?
  5. Create a trusting, supportive environment so participants feel “safe” stretching their learning.
  6. Provide a forum for participants to practice their presentation skills throughout the course.
  7. Through the use of respectful but clear language, the facilitator provides constructive feedback to course participants.
  8. Facilitator engages all course participants in both self-assessment and peer assessment.
  9. Set high performance expectations for course participants and conducts spot audits to ensure high quality training is delivered.
  10. Provide ongoing facilitator support for course graduates.

About the Author

Margaret Spence Krewen, Food Safety Trainer and Train-the-Trainer Program Facilitator for TrainCan Inc. TrainCan, Inc. is an industry leader in food safety training initiatives, supplying hospitality, foodservice, education, Public Health and food retail clients with high quality management and employee level training and certification programs across Canada. www.traincan.com

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