Most have ‘clear vision’ for improving food safety - survey

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: iStock/Issam Khriji
Picture: iStock/Issam Khriji

Related tags Food safety Hepatitis a Hepatitis

Almost three quarters of professionals believe they have a ‘clear vision’ for improving food safety, according to a survey.

A total of 74% of food safety professionals from 1,400 companies across 20 industry sectors believed this.

The survey found 83% believe they are able to provide the food safety training needed to drive behaviours.

However, 67% felt their employees were not following the food safety training program, mainly due to bad habits or they prefer doing things the old way.

Employees not consistently following procedures

Results come from the fifth annual Global Food Safety Training Survey by Alchemy Systems, Campden BRI, Safe Quality Food Institute, BRC Global Standards, GMA’s Science & Education Foundation, NSF Latin America, SGS and TSI.

It questioned food and drink manufacturers and processors to identify the needs, effectiveness and challenges of food safety training in the industry.

About half of respondents came from the US.

“The survey shows a strong management commitment to food safety, but there are execution gaps that still need attention​,” said Raj Shah, chief strategy officer at Alchemy Systems.

“For example, 67% of respondents indicated that they still have employees not consistently following their food safety procedures.”

A total of 35% were using a SQF GFSI scheme, 34% BRC, 10% FSSC 22000 and 9% IFS.

Training and culture challenges

The top three training challenges identified by respondents are scheduling the time for training employees; verifying effectiveness of it and organizing refresher training.

The top three challenges to developing a strong food safety culture are negative employee attitudes; high staff turnover and lack of effective communication.

Alchemy said it takes just one incident to cause irreparable damage to people, profits and brands.

Companies are tackling safety training challenges with shorter sessions, automating learning records and providing tablets and training tools to supervisors so they can train and coach employees directly on the facility floor, it added.

“The survey is a great tool for companies to benchmark compared to their peers, and continuously improve their own food safety training programs,”​ said Laura Nelson, VP of food safety at Alchemy Systems.

Co-operation between departments

Paper-documentation and excel spreadsheet were the top two ways of documenting and managing training records with a commercial learning management system or internally developed software lagging far behind.

Bertrand Emond, head of membership and training at Campden BRI, said the survey is helpful to track developments and highlight trends.

“The survey shows a strong management commitment to food safety, but there are execution gaps that need attention like ensuring all employees are consistently following safety procedures on the production floor,” ​he said.

“It also highlighted the need for the technical and food safety team to work closely with the HR and senior management team to optimize the effectiveness of the training and engagement programmes.

“It was interesting to note that over the last five years, very little progress has been made on improving the effectiveness of training and the take up of more novel learning and training delivery methods has been slow.”

Meanwhile, Campden BRI has extended its UKAS accreditation to cover detection of Hepatitis A and Norovirus in fresh and frozen berries and salad vegetables.

The firm said it is the only laboratory in the UK to be accredited for detection of the two viruses in these product types.

Norovirus and Hepatitis A virus detection methods are based on real-time PCR.

Martin D’Agostino, virologist at Campden BRI, said: “We are delighted to have received UKAS accreditation for our virus detection methods. The accreditation, along with our investment in this area, ensures that we can provide the best virus analytical services to industry.”

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