This article references the requirements in the following Standards:
|BRCGS Food Safety Issue 8 Interpretation Guideline||7.1.1 Initial training|
|BRCGS Packaging Issue 6||6.1.1 Initial training|
|BRCGS Agents & Brokers Issue 2||5.1.1 Initial training and supervision|
|Storage & Distribution Issue 4
|8.1.1 Initial training|
|FSSC22000 Version 5.1||ISO22000 7.2(a) “determine the necessary competence”|
|IFS Food Version 7||3.3.2 “before commencing work, they shall be trained”|
|SQF Edition 9||2.9.1 Training requirements|
What the Standards say…
All of the Standards expect all food handlers to have a basic level of understanding of food safety and the associated GMP controls. How explicit they are about it varies.
- The BRCGS Food Safety interpretation guide states, “obtaining a qualification in ‘basic food hygiene’ for food handlers” may be considered.
- FSSC22000 is the most general about this, as it expects the site to determine what training is required. And this includes what level is appropriate.
- BRCGS Storage & Distribution states that a “basic introduction to HARA/HACCP” is required.
But what is basic training? Well, all Standards expect you to provide all handlers of food products with an understanding of food safety and HACCP – that’s relevant to their role.
Generally, it’s understood in our industry that this basic training is equivalent to at least an Ofqual Level 2, so:
- Level 2 Food Safety
- Level 2 HACCP
However, it doesn’t need to be an accredited qualification (like we’ve talked about in our recent article – Is an accredited qualification a requirement of the Standard?), as long as what’s taught in the course is at least equivalent to that level.
What are your options for this type of training?
Unless you’re going to run this type of training in-house, your options are very limited to be honest. There are only really 4 main providers of Level 2 Food Safety training at the moment, so if you’re purchasing this training for your site, then you may be familiar with what we’re about to describe…
We completed a review of 3 out of 4 providers this year, so we know first-hand what their training contains.
We’re pretty certain that your current training isn’t fit for manufacturing and distribution of food products – as it’s been primarily designed for the hospitality industry and teaches kitchen food safety. If you’re lucky, it might be narrated, or you might have to sit and read it. 80% of the images used in the training aren’t relevant to our industry.
Other than ticking the training box, it also won’t teach the learner much that they can relate to their day job. Also items you might want to accompany the training (such as lesson guides) need to be purchased separately.
Why are current options limited?
Basic food hygiene training, or Level 2 Food Safety as its now called, has been around for many, many years. This type of training was originally built for food made in a kitchen, and it’s since been adapted (to some extent) for a manufacturing situation.
When we say adapted, you have to look quite hard to spot the difference between a ‘kitchen’ style basic food hygiene curriculum and a manufacturing basic food hygiene curriculum. When exactly the original curriculum was written, we can’t be sure, but we know it was used at colleges in the 90’s. When we tested the training available, we found that most of it was still focusing on a kitchen curriculum.
Which means that today, you’re still using a Level 2 Food Safety curriculum that was originally designed for kitchens and was written possibly over 30 years ago!
Food industry standards have advanced dramatically since then. Although food safety continues to be (and always will be) our primary concern, you now need to include food defence and food integrity in your list of GMP requirements.
What’s the result?
Bakery operators continue to be taught why it’s important to segregate raw and cooked chicken, even though in their day-to-day roles in the bakery, they don’t even see a chicken! And, if you work in a whiskey bottling plant, learning about chickens still doesn’t make any sense, and your training doesn’t include the risks of bottling into glass – which is the number one food safety problem.
Why do we use this training when it’s not relevant to us?
Currently, if you provide Level 2 Food Safety eLearning, you have to go with what’s available to you. And you’re forced to go with this type of training because, basically you have to ‘tick a box’, so that you don’t get a non-conformance at audit. But, if you’re being honest with yourself, you probably know ‘ticking that box’ doesn’t really add any value.
Bearing that in mind, let’s look at what ‘ticking that box’ means in terms of cold, hard cash.
Typically, Level 2 Food Safety training is completed every 3 years.
We estimate that there are about 4,000 sites in the UK alone that would require Food Safety or Basic Food Hygiene training.
Let’s say half of those sites have their own on-site trainer, who carries out face-to-face training. So, that leaves about 2,000 sites that need eLearning.
And let’s say each site has on average 80 operatives who need training, which totals 160,000 courses every 3 years.
If you price those at a typical discounted price for a bulk purchase of 80 courses, that’s nearly £900,000 a year.
That’s £900,000 a year to ‘tick a box’.
A box that doesn’t add any value – makes you think doesn’t it?
If spending is £900,000/year – why don’t we get value for money?
It takes a huge amount of time, effort and money to develop an eLearning course. Many of the training providers don’t specialise in just food safety, but rather specialise in training as a whole. This means, that they may not have the expertise in-house to be able to develop the required content and so, they have to contract-in this knowledge. Because Level 2 Food Safety for Manufacturing is only probably a small proportion of their training business, spending a lot of money developing new courses perhaps isn’t economically viable to them.
If it was your business; why would you spend money on something that’s making you money just as it is. Especially, when your competitors courses are no better than yours, there’s no driving force pushing for innovation.
Watch out – here we come!
At Techni-K we don’t think that’s good enough. If the industry is going spend £900,000/year – we want you to get value for money.
Which is why, we’ve developed 20 product specific Food Safety & GMP eLearning courses, specifically designed for operatives in the food industry.
Our goal is to disrupt the market and cause the leading providers to take action. Competition is good and will hopefully drive innovation in this area.
With your support, we can make that happen, so that food safety training doesn’t remain stuck in the past.
We've tagged this article as: Training and competence
If you've enjoyed this post why not try these related articles…
Take a tour of our Food Safety & GMP training for operators
The food industry’s most up-to-date version, of the old-fashioned Basic Food Hygiene training or Level 2 Food Safety training.