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.
Our food safety and GMP training can solve these 3 other problems for you…
1. Be audit ready, every day
We know that during an audit, it’s always the ‘silly’ non-conformances that sites worry about. Someone doing something ‘silly’ during the audit.
If operators followed the GMP rules every day, it would be less likely that these ‘sillies’ would happen. And doing things correctly, even when no one is looking, means that the operator needs to believe that doing it that way – is the right thing to do. Instilling this behaviour, means that the operator needs to understand why it should be done that way.
Teaching the ‘why’ is a key part of our Food Safety & GMP training for operators. When we teach ‘what’ must be done, we always explain ‘why’ and, the consequences of getting it wrong.
So, there should be less ‘audit day’ behaviour and more – ‘audit ready every day’ behaviour.
2. Culture action plan
Having a culture plan is a fairly new requirement. Doing your survey and establishing what sort of culture you have on site is step one. Step two – is putting together a culture action plan. But what actions do you put in place?
How about moving from your current Food Safety training to Techni-K Food Safety & GMP training for operators?
Our training will move your site culture forward in leaps and bounds!
The course itself explains what site culture is, and gives examples of what culture initiatives the operator may see on site. Culture is all about ensuring that personnel on site, behave in line with the required culture set by the business. When looking at food safety culture, this means that personnel need to understand how they impact food safety and how they should behave to make sure the product is safe.
But culture isn’t restricted to just food safety, it covers quality and also authenticity. The curriculum of the Techni-K course covers all these aspects and teaches the operator, not only what they should do – but also why they should do it. Which is the key, to developing a workforce who demonstrate the right cultural behaviours every day.
3. Awareness training for newer subjects
Typical food safety training, focuses just on food safety and doesn’t provide any practical explaination of how contamination must be prevented in product areas on site. Techni-K training is different. It’s focuses on the practical elements of food safety and also GMP, because this is what an operator does every day.
Because we teach GMP as well, it means that we educate the learner in a level of awareness of a range of subjects which are key to technical compliance standards today. This includes topics such as integrity claims for authenticity purposes, handling materials with claims such as species of meat or fish and varieties of produce, ensuring we get the right product in the right pack because of the allergen labelling implications, product defence, culture on site and whistleblowing.
Within GFSI recognised certification schemes and also customer codes of practice (COPs), there are many elements of operator awareness training and you can be assured that the Techni-K operator level training, covers them all!