Do I Need Food Safety Training?
In this article I outline advice relating to food safety training: what the law requires, who needs to do what and recommendations for good practice. There are different expectations according to what position you hold in the business, depending upon whether you are:
- A food handler (most kitchen staff)
- Front-of-house staff (serving and taking phone orders)
- Managers and operators
Food Safety Training for Food Handlers
European law states that operators must ensure that food handlers working in food businesses are “supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters commensurate with their work activity”.
In other words, anyone handling open food must either be sufficiently:
- supervised and instructed; or
- trained; or
- both of the above.
There is no compulsion for operators to enrol all food handling staff on formal training courses as long as adequate instruction or training is provided in-house (e.g. by the operator, chef or manager). However, accredited food hygiene training courses are widely used and accepted as the industry standard.
Proving that your staff have received adequate instruction can be difficult without being able to produce a certificate for each member. Evidence of training also helps support a defence if things go wrong.
When a food safety inspector visits supervisors and food handlers may be asked questions to see whether staff are suitably instructed or trained, and whether operations are carried out safely and in accordance with planned arrangements. They are also likely to request to see training records or certificates if you have them. So be prepared!
The Level 2 Food Safety for Catering course is widely acknowledged as the industry standard for food handlers and will help towards demonstrating that you have taken steps to comply with legal requirements.
Where to Find Food Safety Training for Food Handlers
Level 2 courses taught in person are usually run over the course of a minimum of 6 hours contact with the tutor. They are followed by a short multiple choice exam which must be passed in order to be awarded a certificate.
However, many people now are opting for the speed, convenience and cost of online training. Online training can be accessed more than once and undertaken between shifts.
In-house Instruction or Training
Before food handlers start work they should be given some basic training to ensure that they are safe to carry out simple tasks. Suggested topics include:
- personal hygiene and hand washing
- fitness to work
- temperature controls and monitoring
- cleaning and disinfection procedures
- labelling and date-coding
- control of allergens
- other important safety instructions identified through the HACCP procedure
This may need to be complemented with instructions relating to pre-requisites such as waste disposal arrangements, food storage and pest control/awareness.
Anyone carrying out training or instruction on-site should be competent to carry out that task. Larger companies and multi-site businesses often have their own training programmes in place and will have formal arrangements and resources in place to assist in this process.
If you do carry out training yourself you will also need to structure your training appropriately. It is also a good idea to keep a record of when important aspects of your food hygiene instruction or training are completed. Our training resources help you deliver training in-house.
Remember that staff will still need to be given instruction in the parts of the food safety management system that they are responsible for carrying out.
Food Safety Training for Front-of House Staff
Staff who undertake limited roles or restricted food handling activities are not expected to undertake formal training (this includes front of house staff who serve or wait on customers or bar staff, for example). They will, however, need to have been given a certain amount of instruction to enable them to undertake their jobs safely and hygienically (e.g. they must understand the rules applying to personal hygiene or any cleaning tasks they carry out).
However, it is becoming more important that ALL staff are trained in matters relating to the control of allergens. Front-of-house staff have just as important a role in managing allergen issues as kitchen staff.
Food Safety Training for Supervisors, Managers and Owners
The responsibilities for food safety training don’t stop there. Whilst the Level 2 course is generally considered an acceptable level of training for food handlers, the Level 3 courses takes that knowledge further and has been developed specifically for those with supervisory or managerial responsibilities. Once trained to Level 3 standard supervisors may be able to instruct food handling staff more effectively.
The law also requires that “those responsible for the development and maintenance of the HACCP procedure have received adequate training in the application of the HACCP principles”.
In most small or independent this will often be the proprietor or owner of the business but can sometimes be the manager. The good thing is that Level 3 courses in food safety will include suitable content on HACCP and food safety management and will help satisfy this legal requirement.
In the classroom Level 3 courses are traditionally delivered over 3 days and, as a result, are more expensive and time consuming. The online Level 3 course provides several advantages over courses undertaken in person; not least in time and convenience.
Food handling staff – Level 2 training in food safety for catering
Front-of-house staff – Allergen training
Supervisors, managers and owners – Level 3 training