Have your food handling staff (really) been trained to meet industry standards?

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Hygiene in 2020 has become an important topic and area of understanding and concern in daily life. As a result of the pandemic, food hygiene and safety in commercial kitchens and at home have also become a point of discussion and a key focus as a preventative measure to stop the spread of the virus and keep communities safe. 

This week is Australian Food Safety Week, which raises awareness of safe food practices. This year’s theme, ‘in your hands’, is all about building on our renewed understanding of handwashing as a hygienic practice in preventing the spread of germs and bacteria.  

Businesses in industries such as childcare and aged care this year proved just how much pressure all industries are under right now to ensure hygiene processes and procedures meet the highest standard. As more and more employers face a new COVID-normal in 2020 and beyond, any small slip-ups have the potential to have large consequences.  

If one thing is very, very clear for businesses who prepare and serve food, it’s that now is the time to ensure food handling programs and food handling training is up-to-date and compliant as fast as possible. 

WorkPro has been offering a Safe Food Handling module for many years to help employers manage a consistently high standard of food safety. Since its first release in 2015, over 19,000 individuals have completed this online induction module to understand and practice responsible service of food at work. 

Due to the health situation in 2020, increase in food take-away, home delivery, need for strict hygiene in healthcare facilities and pressure on food handling businesses to use best practice in the kitchen, we began working with subject matter experts to refresh this module and give employers confidence that they’re meeting their obligations in the kitchen. 

Food safety in the workplace 

Food safety refers to the practices and processes for handling, preparing and storing food to prevent foodborne illnesses and other health hazards. Not only does it cover basics like cooking and cooling food, temperature control, avoiding cross-contamination and preparing raw meat and finish, it also includes personal hygiene, transport of food and beverage, and understanding cleaning agents and sanitising equipment. 

The importance of food safety can’t be underestimated. According to the Food Safety Information Council, there are around 4.1 million cases of food poisoning every year in Australia. More than 31,000 of those cases will need hospitalisation. This can be the result of food poisoning bacteria, food intolerances, allergens and more. The cost of these illnesses has been estimated at $1.2 billion, which doesn’t include the revenue lost to damaged business reputation as a result of an issue or outbreak. 

Everywhere that food is prepared and/or served at work for customers or consumers, staff must be trained and applying the proper food safety practices and techniques. This applies to all industries that are considered to be a ‘food business’, which Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) defines as a business or activity that involves the handling of any type of food for sale, or the sale of food in Australia. 

It’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure this training is delivered, reviewed periodically, and the proper food handling practices used in daily operations. Training and ongoing processes and procedures, such as Food Safety Programs, must also be documented to meet industry regulations and avoid fines or worse if problems arise as a result of food on or from the premises. 

Employers and industry regulations 

Food safety is governed in Australia by the Food Standards Act 1991 and is overseen by the FSANZ. The rules and regulations that employers must follow are covered under Chapter 3 of the Food Standards Code

There are five standards that are relevant to food handling: 

  • Interpretation and Application (Standard 3.1.1) 
  • Food Safety Programs (Standard 3.2.1) 
  • Food Safety Practices and general requirements (Standard 3.2.2.) 
  • Food premises and equipment (Standard 3.2.3) 
  • Food Safety Programs – Service to Vulnerable persons (Standard 3.3.1) 

In addition to federal laws, food safety in food businesses is also enforced by legislation at state and local levels. 

It is the responsibility of the ‘employer’ to ensure these standards are met with food safety training for their workforce. And with so much at risk this year relating to food hygiene processes, procedures and practices, every employer must ask themselves:  

  1. Are my food handling staff trained and using best practice with responsible service of food, and running food safety programs to the highest standards?  
  1. If a regulator came knocking on my door, would I be able to prove that industry obligations for food safety training are being met? 

WorkPro’s new Food Handling Safety module

In line with our commitment to compliance confidence for employers, we recently released our refreshed Food Handling Safety module which meets these food standards and incorporates new information for 2020 and beyond.  

The new online induction module can be completed by candidates in their own time, speeding up time-to-hire so they can start day one in new roles compliant and ready to go.  

Once the safe food handling course online has been completed on WorkPro, a food safety certificate becomes available. Automated reminders can then be set to ensure training is re-done in the future and compliance is always met, and bulk training requests can be sent in minutes to reduce admin time. 

WorkPro’s online food handling course covers key topics for all food businesses, including: 

  • Safety responsibilities 
  • Key hazards – contamination, cross-contamination and food poisoning 
  • Basic food hygiene  
  • Food handling 
  • Receiving and storing food from suppliers 
  • Cleaning 
  • Equipment and tools maintenance 
  • Waste management 
  • Safety reporting 
  • Workplace inspections and audits 

In addition to the above, there is also a new section of training for food safety that covers food brought in to facilities by relatives and friends, specific to industries such as aged care. 

If any part of your business handles food and you are seeking a streamlined solution to get workers trained to industry standard, learn more about WorkPro Inductions & eLearning here. 

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Originally posted at: https://www.workpro.com.au/have-your-food-handling-staff-really-been-trained-to-meet-industry-standards/

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