Each year statistics show many people suffer from food borne illnesses caused by improper food safety practices during food processing. Implementing a well-developed food safety program can help prevent and control food safety hazards. Employee training is essential when implementing your food safety program. A training program must ensure that employees understand and follow your company’s policies and procedures.
Management plays the most significant role in the effective training of employees. Not only is it the responsibility of management to ensure that all employees are educated about the company’s food safety policies and best practices, but managers must also be alert to personnel training needs. It is a good idea to have built-in procedures in place to determine when a need for training exists. Look for trends. For example, if verification monitoring or test results show that a process or product is abnormal or outside of specifications, this may indicate that there is a need to conduct food safety training. Perhaps a new employee working in the problem area has not had adequate training for working in said area.
Train the What’s and Whys
Every employee (including managers) should receive initial food safety protocol training, and receive refresher training on a regular basis thereafter. Initial training is by far the most imperative. Companies should require that employees undergo some sort of initial training before beginning to work. Many times new employees have had no prior exposure to working in a food processing environment, and even less knowledge of food safety and safe food handling practices. Training from the onset prevents teammates from having the opportunity to form bad or incorrect habits.
Of course, if your company is practicing HACCP, it is required that a member of management is trained in HACCP. This could be accomplished by completing a HACCP course the covers the principles of the plan in detail. This management employee receives a certification upon completing this course. Also, all employees monitoring critical control points (CCPs) must undergo specific HACCP training. As always, this training must be documented and include training records.
Train With a Purpose
Whatever the circumstance, there should be some type of assessment after training to verify that employees have understood the concepts presented. Not being able to prove that training has taken place can sometimes be viewed as equally as bad as having never performed it. This is why it is particularly important to officially document training. This can be an outline of the topics covered and an employee sign-off sheet. This helps to hold employees accountable and validates training during audit procedures. Keep a set of records with the Human Resource department, and another with the QA/QC manager. Each employee should have a file that lists all of the company’s training programs and those applicable to each employee. Each category can be checked off to indicate that an employee has successfully completed training in any given area. This makes it very easy to see if a particular employee shows a deficiency in knowledge. Encourage employees by posting accomplishments or issuing achievement certificates, or add incentives or award programs for having successfully completed training.