The National Audit Office has announced that spending on food hygiene by local authorities fell by an estimated 19% between 2012–13 and 2017–18 because of funding pressures. These cuts to food hygiene and standards staff had reportedly led to some local authorities failing to meet their legal responsibilities to ensure businesses comply with the law.
At a time when around one million people in the UK suffer a food-related illness each year, potentially costing £1bn in loss of earnings, this is a risky game that no one can afford to play.
Businesses need to step up
While local authorities struggle to uphold their part of the process, businesses need to step up to ensure that consumers’ health and wellbeing is not being put at risk.
At any given time, all employees should have undertaken the appropriate training to keep food safe and hygienic. This training is not optional, but rather, a legal requirement for anybody who regularly handles food.
The food manufacturing sector is no exception. Operators must ensure employees are supervised and given adequate training in food hygiene. There is no excuse for handling or preparing food in an unsafe manner.
Although time constraints and poor training are often used as reasons for poor service, this cannot be continued in any kind of establishment. A company’s training system must be cost-effective, while guaranteeing high employee engagement and enabling rapid recruitment of new staff.
eLearning programmes on food safety and hygiene can equip staff with essential knowledge while keeping costs down. To ensure best practice, look for courses that have been approved by authorities such as the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. Ultimately, adopting best practice for food handling will help firms gain consumer trust while protecting their own reputations.