‘Room for improvement’ in food safety training

By Laurence Gibbons

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food safety Psychology

There is still 'room for improvement' in food safety training
There is still 'room for improvement' in food safety training
Employee understanding of food safety training is not being checked, which is a big reason why there is “room for improvement” in the field, according to a new survey.

Verification that employees understood what they’ve been taught was listed as a major training challenge – with four out of five identifying the biggest challenge as scheduling training time.

More than one in five of audit deficiencies reported by respondents were attributed to lack of worker comprehension of concepts previously taught during classroom learning.

Laura Nelson, vice president of technical services and business development at Alchemy Systems, told FoodManufacture.co.uk many firms still saw training as a “couple of check marks on an audit”​.

‘Lack a full understanding’

“Because these food safety professionals are not experts in behavioural science and adult learning, they lack a full understanding of the training challenges the ever changing demographics of the workforce presents,” ​she said. “Four different generations are now in the workforce, diverse cultures exist, and a disparity of education levels across job roles and industry sectors.”

As a result, many businesses thought they were satisfied with their training, but were failing short, so complacency was also a problem, she added.

Companies struggled to answer the question ‘are we training adequately?’ and should review the survey results to see where opportunities for improvement lie, Nelson claimed.

According to the survey, more than 60% of respondents were satisfied with the quality and quantity of training, but only 10–15% described themselves as “very satisfied”​ with both.

The survey found that training standards had remained largely the same, with only 37% saying they felt training had improved in the past year.

Despite this, over half (62%) said they were satisfied with their training and 59% described the quality of training as unchanged.

More food firms are taking a closer look at behavioural coaching on the factory floor even after completion of classroom training and examinations, the survey also revealed.

Nearly 40% said they had incorporated coaching into their food safety training.


Jeff Eastman, Alchemy ceo, said this was surprising as the use of coaching as a training tool wasn’t included in the 2013 survey.

“What we find most interesting about the responses is that more than 40% believe supervisory coaching and influencing behaviour on the job are as integral to establishing a food safety culture as is training in the classroom.”

The Global Food Safety Training Survey 2014 quizzed 25,000 food manufacturers and processors and was conducted by Alchemy Systems and Campden BRI.

The survey was conducted in partnership with BRC Global Standards, the Safe Quality Foods Institute, a US-based provider of food safety certification programmes, and  inspection and certification firm SGS. It was designed to explore a range of training issues such as budgets, challenges, audit deficiencies, training activities and measurement of results.

Related topics Food Safety

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