Food Safety Training

A critical step on the road to certification is understanding the need to create a food safety culture within an organization, regardless of its size. Food safety initiatives do not happen by accident and require the intentional commitment of leaders at all levels within an organization, starting with its senior management. Implementing food safety measures into a business requires dedication and commitment to developing a ‘food safety culture,’ where everyone involved not only understands the company’s “minimum standards” for benchmarking from a particular scheme, but is committed to continuous improvements for food safety through ongoing training and updates to procedures. An organization’s culture will influence how individual employees think about food safety, which is reflected in their attitudes and willingness to participate in training programs. Now more than ever, a food safety culture should be part of every operation and which may determine the overall success when it comes to certification.

Creating a food safety culture requires that the organization’s leaders develop a systems-based approach to food safety to include management’s commitment and style to leadership, communications, work environment and risk perception. The ability to influence and nurture a food safety culture successfully will be the difference between a training program that is meaningful and one that is not – after all, the most effective training program should not only be able to assist an organization on the road to certification, but, more importantly, in the day-to-day operations of the business.

Establishing a Commitment to Food Safety Training

It is critical that organizations adequately train employees at all levels to ensure the criteria established by the desired standards scheme are followed through according to proper procedure. Training can be conducted in a number of ways:

  • An organization may have a trainer on-site (Train-the-Trainer) who is able to teach courses and administer testing.
  • An organization may require an outside source to teach courses and administer testing.
  • Courses may be conducted online.
  • Course software may be purchased and used for internal training.

Core areas to consider when establishing a training program:

Research – There are different types of training material and guidelines for each certification standards scheme, depending on the product or industry sector an organization belongs to along the food chain. Find out which one applies and what type of training is recommended. Will a food safety consultant be required or is an online course acceptable? Research is a critical element for consideration when it comes to training throughout the organization, to ensure proper food safety practices are in place across every location.

Choosing a Leader – Every project needs a leader. Food safety training is no different and should be based on an organization’s structure. Depending on the size of the organization, it may be more cost effective to “train the trainer,” sending a person, such as a manager or director, to take formal training on how to set up and administer a training program to employees. Most courses will provide Trainers with materials and manuals in order to conduct in-house training sessions. This is dependent on the training required for adopting or implementing a food safety standards scheme and may require an individual is is well versed in the standard.

Train Employees – Whether an individual from within the organization is responsible for training or someone from the outside, all employees should receive the same level of training so procedures are consistent throughout the operation.  It is also imperative to implement a policy for new hires, who will will require proper training about your companies food safety practices and procedures.

Keep Employees Informed – Inform all employees of food safety guidelines and standard schemes protocol measures. Post safety signs and posters to remind employees of procedures and create consistent documentation for follow up and inspections. Many organizations choose to implement handheld devices with software, offering paperless documents in order to streamline their operations.

Monitor – Standards schemes can be very useful to keep food safety top of mind in day-to-day operations, but it’s only effective when everyone in the organization follows it. Putting food safety training into practice will ensure compliance with a standards scheme while mitigating a business’s risk of liability.

Continuous monitoring of management and employees activities are required to ensure proper procedures follow the guidelines, especially when it come to closing out non-conformances.

Where to Find Training – Food safety courses are available through accredited learning facilities or a business that specializes in food safety training. Courses for a specific food safety scheme are available and can usually be found online or through distribution of course calendars. 

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