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Maximize the Impact of Food Safety Training

Sep 28, 2023

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National Food Safety Education Month (NFSEM) is coming to a close and we’re going out with a bang by sharing how to Maximize The Impact of Food Safety Training. Throughout September we’ve talked about The Importance of Food Safety Education, as well as The Various Types of Food Safety Training, but now we are diving a little deeper. Why is maximizing the impact of food safety training so vital and what are ways you can do so? Let’s talk about it!

Training Vs. Education

            Let’s start by clarifying the difference between Food Safety Training and Food Safety Education. To break it down a notch, training teaches personnel how to do something. It’s the steps, process, or activity that you go through to accomplish something. Education is the why behind what you are doing. It’s the reason for putting those steps, processes, and activities into place. It gives you a purpose for your procedure. You shouldn’t, and really can’t, have one without the other. Training and education go hand-in-hand.

It’s important not just to have the processes in place to produce safe food, but to ensure that every member of the organization understands the underlying purpose of each process and what it accomplishes. This understanding helps build the food safety awareness and culture of an organization.

Top Down, Bottom-Up Communication & Team Building

            Maximizing the impact of food safety training and education means including every member of the organization from top to bottom, inside and out. Organizations exist in a hierarchical structure: Presidents/CEOs, Managers, Assistant Managers, Team/Shift Leaders, Plant Floor Workers, etc. They can be split into multiple categories, such as administrative, sales, quality control, food safety, production, and so forth. Regardless of position in the organization, each member should be trained and educated in proper food safety practices for that organization.

            Every level and position of the organization should have some basic understanding of proper and effective food safety practices and procedures. It may seem unnecessary for a sales representative or administrator to be trained in food safety, but what if that sales rep or administrator needs to step onto the plant floor to communicate with another team member? Well, than that sales rep or administrator needs to have a clear understanding and awareness of the food safety practices and procedures that are expected when in a food production or handling area.

When multiple positions and disciplines are trained together it also creates a stronger FSMS because it ensures there is little room for absences and creates a supporting network within the organization. This doesn’t necessarily mean that each organizational member needs to attend a training session outside of the organization, but there should be clear communication throughout the organization on food safety practices. Whether that communication is through sharing of documentation and procedures or through in-house training or meetings, the standards for food safety that you operate by should be shared with all personnel. Whether that occurs from the top down (i.e. owners/CEOs/presidents communicate to managers, administrators, and workers) or bottom-up  (i.e. plant workers and other personnel communicate to upper levels of management).

This communication can and should flow in all directions, but it is vital for upper management (including owners) to aid in fostering this practice. The “higher” positions within the organization set the tone for the organization and either create avenues for communication and growth or stifle them. Employees can’t be empowered to take ownership and initiative if not given the tools and opportunities to do so. This requires involvement and dedication, but it will in turn foster a Food Safety Culture throughout the organization. It’s important to keep in mind that the purpose of training isn’t just to educate but also to build your team. During training, whether in-house or outsourced, it is an opportunity for personnel to share their experience, learn from each other, and build camaraderie. This is a key to Food Safety Culture.

Food Safety Culture

            An important aspect of maximizing the impact of Food Safety Training and Education is Food Safety Culture. It is not enough to just learn to go through the motions, but to truly understand the reasons behind regulations, standards, and requirements. Food safety should become the heart and habit of the organization. However, you can’t have a food safety culture if you have nothing to build on.

            Food safety culture starts at the beginning through the organization’s Values, Vision, and Mission. An organization’s values, vision, and mission statements should lay the foundation for and foster the overall culture of the organization, including food safety culture. Values are principles that guide your actions, help define your organization’s identity, form your organization’s culture, and define basic principles of how you go about your work. Your vision statement sets the direction of your organization. Your mission statement defines how you plan to fulfill your vision. Both the vision and mission statements should align with and reflect the values of the organization.

Personnel who are educated through training  take the concepts and ideas they learn from classes and relate it to current processes. And this doesn’t just go for first-time trainees, but also for those who attend training as a refresher or continuing education. Training is an opportunity to generate new ideas or process changes to improve the overall food safety management system and food safety culture. A major advantage of creating an environment of food safety culture is it can increase ROI by lowering waste and preventing recalls. Maximizing the impacts of food safety training and education lowers the risk of food safety issues in an organization and creates an environment and culture that helps prevent the production of unsafe food. So, are you ready to maximize your food safety training and education?

Interested in Food Safety Training?

Want to reap the benefits of food safety training? Sign-up for one of our upcoming classes!

Not sure which training is best for you and your organization? Contact us and we’ll help you determine which training will be the most beneficial for you!

Don’t have a training program in place? Let us know, and we’ll help you create a robust and effective food safety training program that works for your team!

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