Food safety

Managers need to pay attention to food safety training

Food safety training programs are a set of activities built to develop the knowledge and skills of an examinee on ...

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  • Food safety training programs are a set of activities built to develop the knowledge and skills of an examinee on proper food safety practices and important food safety topics.
  • Food safety certifications are a validation of the examinee's knowledge of the basic principles of food safety.
  • Adequate food safety training and certifications are proof of your food business' commitment to protecting public health.

In one of the most recent reports released by the World Health Organization on the leading causes of death, diarrheal diseases due to unsafe food and water have been identified to be in the top 10. Despite the decrease in casualties in recent years, this result conveys how food safety issues are still prevalent in some parts of the world. This only shows how important it is to know about food safety whether as a customer or a food business owner. Such is the purpose of undergoing food safety training and having food safety certifications.

These programs help the whole food industry ensure that all food operations are up to standards and work in compliance with food safety regulations. A food business is valued based on its approach to food safety and how it implements ways in protecting the public. The fundamentals of food safety are always based on common approaches but to achieve mastery and ensure the quality of your practices, training and certification programs would work best.

In this article, we will be dealing with the importance of food safety training and certification, their differences, and how our digital solution at FoodDocs can help you in both areas.



What is food safety training?

Different types of food safety training are programs focused on improving the skills and knowledge of food handlers through a set of activities. Some types of food safety training have courses focused on a specific topic, whereas some aim to improve the skills of food handlers in multiple fields.

Providing yourself, as well as your employees, with adequate food safety training decreases the chances of food safety hazards and blunders from occurring. Food safety training programs include lectures, practical activities, and written exams. Despite this, most training programs are now available online and can be accomplished in less than a day.

For some countries such as the US, food safety laws, particularly the Food Safety Modernization Act, requires individuals working in the food industry to have proper knowledge and training about food safety. Knowledge and expertise from such training will help in building a mandatory food safety plan as part of their food safety management system.


Why is food safety training important?

In addition to being a requirement for some countries, allowing your employees to attend food safety training shows your concern for protecting public health. With adequate food safety training, your food management system becomes fortified with well-learned employees that know the importance of food safety practices. In addition, food safety training also improves the productivity of employees and helps reduce company costs by minimizing food safety issues and food waste.

Having a better appreciation of food safety through training, allows employees to put a higher value on public health. The skills and knowledge they get from these food safety training programs can also improve their way of living as they apply them to their everyday lives. With adequate food safety training, employees become more aware of which practices are critical in producing safe foods. This aspect then contributes to the reduction of cases of foodborne diseases. When good food safety practices are applied, your food business becomes more appealing to the consumers.


manager showing food safety certification


When should staff receive food safety training?

Providing proper and comprehensive food safety training is one of the main jobs of food managers. As a food business owner, supervisor, or manager, you are required to provide this service to your employees as part of their introduction to your food business within at least one (1) to three (months) of working. This service will help your new employees become acquainted with proper food protection practices and guard your food business against any food safety-related issues.

Fundamental training programs for entry-level employees include essential food safety practices. Once provided to all food business employees, food safety training must be periodically conducted through refresher courses to remind employees and update them on new food industry practices. When it comes to training your employees, the sooner they gain the food safety training they need, the better.

After gaining enough training, employees and managers alike may seek validation for their skills and knowledge through certification programs.


Top ranking food safety training courses online

Nowadays, you do not need to go to a convention and perform practical tasks to get the proper food safety training that you need. Many established and certified websites provide training courses on various topics. Some offer basic courses, whereas others offer package courses involving multiple topics in one training program.

To help you choose from which website you can avail yourself of training programs, here is a list of the three top-ranking websites for food safety training:

  • Food Standards Agency
    The official website of one of the UK's food safety agencies provides free online food safety training courses for businesses. These programs are the initiative of the government and include the following food safety training courses:

    • Allergen
    • Labeling
    • Root cause analysis
    • Traceability
    • Vacuum packaging

These training programs consist of modules which you need to study and participate in an examination. Each program may have a different number of module sets but all of them require that you at least achieve an 85% score to pass. The course of the programs is self-paced. This means that you can control when to read the modules and take the exams.

Specifically, in the UK, food handling personnel are not required to have permits or certificates to operate. Despite this, managers are encouraged to provide adequate training to their employees regarding food hygiene and safety.

  • High Speed Training
    This website offers food safety and hygiene training for various levels of tasks in the food industry. The level of training courses depends on the nature of your workplace and the position of the examinee in his or her food establishment. If you are not sure which level to take, the website can suggest it for you by answering two (2) generated questions.

The courses provided by this website are internationally recognized. Some of the major topics they deal with include the following:

    • Level 1: Principles of hazards, handling low-risk foods, and general awareness of food safety practices.
    • Level 2: Proper food safety practices for cooking, preparing, and handling foods; food hazards; and preventive controls.
    • Level 3: Food safety supervision for catering, retail, and manufacturing services. As well as advanced food safety principles.
  • National Sanitation Foundation (NSF)
    This institution is a non-profit organization with the goal of creating food safety standards to promote public health. Their training services offer in-person, hands-on programs and online and instruction-led courses. They provide a broad range of training courses on food safety topics as well as international food systems. NSF provides internationally-recognized food safety training programs


Food Safety Management System


Things to consider for food safety training

In providing food safety training programs as a manager, there are a few points to consider to achieve maximum benefits. These considerations may involve the type of food safety education program to provide, the extensiveness or level of the training, and the frequency of these training programs. Good food safety training is a good investment for your food business.

Employees can be trained through on-the-job training on food safety or through online food safety training. The manager is responsible for training you about food safety in your job duties, which include:

  • Proper food cooking practices
  • Food storage
  • Food delivery
  • Ensuring maintenance of a clean food establishment and equipment
  • Waste management
  • Personal hygiene practices

These tasks are all essential to achieving a working food safety management system. Regardless of which method you choose to teach your employees, the manager's most important food safety responsibility is training you to understand the importance of food safety practices. Improving the skills and knowledge of your employees in food safety tasks through training benefits your company and ensures that no food-related issues will harm public health. 

When choosing which food safety training programs to enroll your employees in, it is important to consider the question "Why does staff turnover present a challenge to food safety training?"  Food safety training programs require resources such as time and money. This means that if the employee turnover rate is high, your profit returns and gains will be less maximized. High employee turnover disrupts continuous progress in the food business environment. Once your food business has to hire new employees, your management team would need to conduct new sets of training. In such cases, finding a simplified way to train your employees with their food safety tasks would be most useful. 

This is how FoodDocs can help you. Our food safety management system features a specific yet simple program that allows you to designate tasks for concerned employees. Our system allows each employee to focus only on the tasks they have to do, and you would not need to micromanage them. All tasks are well-defined and guided by critical limits and corresponding corrective actions. 


Food safety training vs Food safety course

At a glance, it's quite hard to differentiate the two terms. Their definitions are confusing since most of their objectives and practices overlap. Do not get confused, each program has its purpose and can significantly benefit your food business.

Perhaps the major distinction between the two terms is that food safety training programs aim to develop the skills and knowledge of examinees through a set of exercises, whereas certification programs aim to authenticate and validate these skills. Particularly, food safety training programs lead to certification. Upon completing food safety training programs, you can then apply for a certification which will serve as proof that you are qualified and that you have substantial knowledge about a topic.


What is a food safety certification?

Food safety certifications are different types of programs that aim to evaluate and validate a product, operation process, set of skills, knowledge, and other systems within the food supply chain. Several types of food safety certifications are available in the food industry and are easily accessible to any food business. All certification programs are different from other proof of compliance such as inspection reports and supplier certificates. Where inspection reports prove that your operations follow food safety regulations, food safety certifications are proof that food handlers are equipped with the knowledge and skills to maintain food safety. Food safety certifications focus on handling practices rather than the actual state of your food premises and supplier relations.

A food safety certificate is awarded by accomplishing a set of practical or written tests and audits that aim to evaluate the confidence of the examinee in the given topic. It serves as proof to consumers and stakeholders that your food business is compliant with recognized food safety standards and has the necessary knowledge to conduct safe food operations.

The terms food safety handler certificate, license, permit, and card are mostly used interchangeably in different locations. Despite this fact, their main objective is to serve as proof of adequate training and knowledge on proper food safety handling practices. In some contexts, a certificate may be described as voluntary proof, whereas permits, licenses, and cards are legal requirements. When applying for a certification program, we suggest clarifying these fields with the person in charge. 

Major differences in food safety certificates

To help you identify the major differences among the certifications, we have compiled some of the most important points you have to consider before taking them. 




What is food safety manager certification?

A food safety manager certification is a program that evaluates the competency of a food business manager when it comes to food safety practices and topics. Achieving such certification shows to the food industry that a food safety manager has the appropriate knowledge and skills in terms of food safety. Food safety manager certification programs focus more on managing food safety systems and practices.

This certification program may involve fields such as:

  • Delivery and transportation of food
  • Food storage
  • Food preparation
  • Food hygiene
  • Facility design
  • Compliance with food safety management systems
  • Recordkeeping
  • Managerial tasks


What is a food safety handling certificate?

Food safety handling certificates are given to all food handlers including a food business owner, chef, service crew, bartender, and others who have completed an evaluation program on safe food handling practices. Such programs highlight basic knowledge of food safety practices. Food safety handling programs aim to widen the knowledge of food handlers on how to mitigate foodborne illnesses and related issues. 

Food safety certification programs on proper food handling may include topics such as:

  • Proper food and personal hygiene
  • Basic information on food safety hazards
  • Cross-contamination
  • Proper storage and preparation of food
  • Food allergies
  • Control measures
  • Proper cleaning and sanitation practices   

Most topics in a food safety handling certification involve practices related to prerequisite programs. (link to HACCP article where its talked about prerequisite programs article) Depending on our location, this type of food safety certification may be a requirement to continue operations. Some certification programs will also vary their food safety topics such as localized food laws depending on your location.


What is a food safety license?

This license is a legal document provided by local authorities after completing the licensing program that they have designed. This license is a requirement for any food business owner to continuously operate or for a food handler to continue working in the food industry. In the United States of America, a food safety license is considered a food safety legal requirement.  

Nowadays, a food safety permit can be obtained through courses that are available online. Most courses include the importance of temperature control, cleaning, food safety hazards, preventive controls, and topics on common foodborne illnesses. 


What is a food safety handlers card?

A food handlers card is an identification card awarded to an examinee after passing a series of evaluations. These cards are valid for at least two (2) years and can be location-specific. That is, some locations will not recognize your card from a different state due to varying food regulations. Some locations require all employees to have a food worker card to work for a food establishment.


What is food handlers permit?

Food handlers permit is an employee's proof that he or she has undergone orientation, training, and evaluation regarding the basic food safety practices. A copy of this permit must be accessible and presented to a local food authority once requested. 

With all of these certifications and permits, it may be hard to keep track of all of them. These certifications would also need to be renewed, and therefore, more paper will accumulate. Tracking all of these documents will become even harder as you progress with your food business. Luckily, digital solutions such as our Food Safety Management System at FoodDocs can solve these problems for you. Store, organize and manage all your food safety certifications with our FSMS software.


food safety online course


Digital solution to food safety training and certification management

Food safety training and certification programs are proof of your commitment as a food establishment to uphold food safety standards. Applying for any food safety program also shows your concern to protect public health. Although these programs are a big part of your food safety management system, as a food business owner, managing these programs on top of monitoring your food safety practices and actual food business operations can be too much to handle.

At FoodDocs, we have considered these factors and have adapted our digital Food Safety Management System to accommodate tasks particular to managing food safety training and certifications. Our team of food safety experts has come up with digital FSMS software that can automatically generate a system for your operations and help you manage monitoring and other activities with great ease. Based on your answers to our basic questions regarding the nature of your food business, our system automatically generates a program for you with customizable, digital monitoring forms and food safety modules.

Managing certifications through FoodDocs

Our digital food safety management system includes a built-in management feature for your food safety certifications. Our system can easily accommodate any type of certification program and help you manage their storage compilation, organization, and scheduling.

Specifically, our FSMS certification management features help you achieve the following benefits: 

  • Store all digital certificates online. Our system allows the food safety manager to upload all relative food safety certifications that a specific employee has under their file. You can also add new certification requirements and proof based on the conditions of your location.
  • Manage your certificates digitally. Once you upload particular certificates under one of your food employees, our system will require you to input the awarding and renewal dates of each certificate. As we store all of your food safety certificates in single cloud storage, you can easily access them and review all certificates when needed. Additionally, under this feature, you can also add other food safety-related proofs that may need renewal. Such particulars include the allocation of uniforms, equipment, and even the mobile device you are using for our FSMS.
  • Notification for renewal dates. We know that the validity of some certifications is limited. As a way to help you manage renewal dates, our system will automatically notify you of upcoming expiration dates for any certificate and suggest for you prepare for its renewal.

All of these benefits can be monitored and customized in the palm of your hands. Our FSMS software is compatible with devices such as mobile phones or tablets. Receive prompt notifications about renewal dates before they even expire.  

Managing food safety training through FoodDocs

As a food business owner or a food safety manager, you are tasked to train new and old employees with proper food safety practices. This process will take time and will need to be repeated for every new employee. Such is the problem when high turnover rates are present in a food company. Our FSMS training module presents an efficient digital solution to these problems.

Here are some ways how our digital FSMS can help you manage food safety training:

  • Manage training schedule and assignment. Similar to the certification management feature, our digital FSMS allows you to manage training schedules remotely. As a form of employee training, our system allows the food safety manager to assign specific tasks to the involved employee allowing them to focus only on these activities. Notifications regarding each assigned task will be prompted to specific employees to ensure that they are executed on time. Each task is completely described and reliable. 

With this feature, you can easily orient new employees with the essential tasks that they need to perform. Each activity is set with critical limits to follow food safety standards and control hazards. Once these limits are breached, our system will immediately notify you of proper corrective actions and allow you to document what actions have been taken. 

  • Improves communication within the team. To facilitate communication and a seamless FSMS, our digital solution allows employees to connect their activities with their coworkers from other departments. A good example would be when cooks have to report any equipment problem to the maintenance department. Your cook can report this issue by submitting a ticket and tagging the expected department to resolve the issue. 
  • A solution to employee turnover. Our digital FSMS makes orientation easier for food safety managers whenever new employees arrive. With our system, you would only need to provide access to an account specifically made for a job for your new employee. This account will already have the list of tasks that they need to fulfill and ensure food safety. Through this feature, the time you will need to spend on micromanaging new employees will be significantly decreased.

On top of all of these benefits, our digital FSMS allows you, the food safety manager, to monitor all progress through a real-time dashboard. This feature reflects which tasks have already been completed, unresolved problems, as well as tasks that are due. Save time managing your team and allow yourself to focus on other important activities in your food business by allowing us to help you.

Switch to our digital solution for your FSMS needs by signing up with us at FoodDocs. You would only need an average of 15 minutes to switch from a paper-oriented system to a fully digital FSMS with our help. Remain compliant with food safety laws and regulations and make all your monitoring tasks easier and more efficient.




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