Last updated: 30.08.13

Food safety training 'not prioritised enough'

Too many food manufacturers are viewing staff training as a 'tick box' exercise and failing to put enough thought into improving skills among their workforce.

This is the view of Paula Morris, commercial director for Alchemy Systems, who complained that bosses simply go through the motion of training employees in order to comply with standards set out by authorities and the demands of customers.

She was quoted by Food Manufacture as saying that some blue chip food firms may lack the senior staff who would be able to provide employees with adequate food safety knowledge.

"There's a real split in the UK. You get some companies that are very forward-thinking and always looking for innovative ways to train and make sure their employees are always improving," the expert remarked.

However, a lot of smaller organisations do not have a training manager, so the HR director or technical manager might be responsible for training, which means staff are not receiving the optimum educational experience.

As long as companies are able to show an auditor they have carried out the relevant exercises, many of them mistakenly believe this is enough, Ms Morris noted.

But that won't prepare them for unannounced audits which are becoming increasingly common and the food safety professional claimed that "such derogation of responsibility is likely to be noticed".

Technology could have an important role to play in ensuring that employees at food manufacturing companies know all they need to about food safety.

There are online training providers stationed all over the UK, with Virtual College - based in West Yorkshire - one of those businesses able to equip food safety workers with adequate training.

Indeed, it has just reduced the cost of its Level 3 Food Safety and Hygiene for Supervisors module from £125 to £85, with the offer set to last until the end of October. What's more, its Level 2 Course is also available for just £15.