Training was a hot topic at this year’s IAFP in St. Louis. Posters sessions, roundtables, symposiums, and exhibitions all emphasized the necessity of food safety training.
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Sure, the food industry realizes the importance of training; but how effective is the training that you or your employees receive? Not implementing proper food safety training programs can have serious consequences. Food companies’ executives, managers, and employees can be charged with a crime even if they didn’t know that a food safety violation was happening under their roof.
Alchemy Systems, in partnership with the Campden BRI, SQF Institute, British Retail Consortium, SGS, and TSI released the 2016 results of a global survey of 25,000 food companies about their food safety training practices and challenges. The Global Food Safety Training Survey found that companies are devoting significant time to training: about 75 percent of employees get four or more hours of training per year; and 50 percent of supervisors and managers get nine or more hours of training per year.
However, many companies struggle to translate that commitment to actual employee behavior on the plant floor. In the survey, 62 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “Despite our efforts in food safety classroom training, we still have employees not following our food safety program on the plant floor.”
The survey found a “lack of refresher training” for frontline workers. It uncovered that 75 percent of respondents believe that if food safety programs were consistently applied, employee productivity would increase.
“Closing the gap between a company’s commitment to food safety and the frontline’s actual behaviors requires new thinking and approaches,” says Je Eastman, CEO of Alchemy Systems. “Companies need to devise interactive and relevant training pro- grams that will engage employees with real-world safety scenarios and team activities so they make the right food safety decisions on the plant floor.”
From harvesting to processing to service, training programs for food industry workers at every level need to emphasize the gravity of the responsibility being put on employees’ shoulders. Their shortcomings could expose people nationwide with serious illness and may even cause death. Only when employees grasp the seriousness of their job can food safety training be successful.
From The Editor