Is Food Safety an Optional Extra for food Businesses?

If you are a business owner or manager in the food industry, what would be top of your list for ensuring success and setting you apart from the rest?  The best menu, the best food or products, the newest techniques, the best décor, the best staff, the best location? Perhaps a combination of all of them or perhaps you really do lead the field in one or two and you’re a pioneering force within the industry.  But what about food safety?  Where does that feature in your list of priorities?

Food Business Operators have a legal, moral and commercial obligation to ensure the food they are producing is safe, and will not cause harm, injury or illness. With regulations and laws increasing and becoming ever tighter, good food safety procedures and training are imperative to the success of any business.  Whatever your field, inspections by your local authority are mandatory and your food safety processes will be subject to close scrutiny.

Most businesses providing food to the public will come under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme whereby, based on the results of an inspection, you are given a hygiene rating of 0 to 5, with 5 being the highest and 0 being the lowest.  Although you might choose not to display the certificate in your window if you get a lower rating, all results are available on the Food Standards Agency website, so there is nowhere to hide.

Inspectors seek to ensure that you are creating food and food products that are safe to eat.  It won’t just be the end goods they’re looking at but the whole chain of events from its inception to the final product and all the equipment, processes, procedures, methods and systems in between.

Inspectors will also look at your advertising and product descriptions.  Are you labelling your food, your menus and products accurately or are you being deliberately ambiguous and hoodwinking customers?  Alternatively, you could be unaware that you are misleading customers and need guidance.

If you fall short in any area, inspectors will not be forgiving and enforcement officers have the power to take a number of different actions, depending on the severity of the problem.  A best case scenario would be a ‘hygiene improvement notice’ where you would have to ensure you changed certain procedures in order to meet with government standards and law.  A worst case scenario would be for them to recommend prosecution which could lead to a fine, being banned from the food industry or even imprisonment.

With such rigorous regulations, excellent food safety practices need to be in place and all staff should be trained, either to a basic or more advanced level, depending on their level of responsibility and involvement in the production process.  You can choose to improve your business by updating your décor, changing the tablecloths, updating your menu or hiring more staff but these are choices that you have the luxury of making or not making.  Food safety is not an optional extra like any of these might be, rather, it is an absolute essential to the success and safety of your business.

Remember however, that as important as compliance is, it is not an end in itself, but rather a means to an end. (Otherwise it can end-up as a mere ‘box ticking’ exercise which in the end is counter-productive). Ultimately, the most important reason Food Business Operators must take food safety seriously, is for the safety and wellbeing of their customers. That should always be the starting point. This involves:

– Protecting food from all types of contamination

– Preventing harmful bacteria from multiplying in food

– Destroying any harmful bacteria through correct processing and thorough cooking

– Disposing of any contaminated, unfit and/or suspect food.

Finally, and very importantly, managers, supervisors and team leaders can massively help implement standards and maintain a good food safety culture if they lead by example and put into practice what they preach. Hypocrisy is a big turn-off. A manager who takes a ‘maverick approach’ to food safety, or is sloppy, will often find that their staff are too – and in reality, to a greater degree.

Here are just some of the many benefits in taking food safety seriously and promoting a good food safety culture

– Reduced risk of food poisoning

– Satisfied customers

– Good reputation

– Peace of mind

– Hygienic working conditions, which leads to increased staff morale

– Legal compliance.

On the other hand, here are some of the costs of poor food safety practices

– Food poisoning and/or food safety incidents

– Increased complaints

– Poor reputation

– Less profitability

– Low staff morale

– Legal action / fines

– Imprisonment

– Closure of the business.

 

Catersafe Consultants have a wide range of training available from eLearning to a trainer coming to your premises to train you and your staff.  We pride ourselves on thorough and comprehensive training, equipping you to put in place procedures which will ensure the highest standards; standards which are crucial to your business.  Get in touch – we’d love to help you achieve those standards and be a leader in your industry.

Check out our eLearning course on how to achieve a maximum Food Hygiene Rating for your food business! Sign up for a free trial today!

The Training of Food Handlers

The Training of Food Handlers

By law, those responsible for running a food business must ensure that food handlers receive food safety training which is ‘commensurate’ to their level of responsibility. In other words, the level of training that each food handler receives should be appropriate for their individual job role and work activities. This basically means that food business operators are required to evaluate the risks associated with the different job functions their food handling staff perform and then provide them with the appropriate food safety training.

Failure by food business owners to follow high standards of food safety can easily cause food to become defiled or contaminated, resulting in potentially fatal consequences for the business’ customers and financial disaster for the business’ owner.

The Benefits for Employers

Whilst the law does not demand that all employees go through a formal or an accredited food safety training programme, it would be very inadvisable to not do so. Based on our experience and dialogue with food business operators from a wide range of sizes and sectors within the food industry, the message is that these recognised courses are inclined to be more rigorous and the outcome in most cases tends to be a lot better; promoting a greater level of work engagement from staff and an increased commitment to their job requirements and areas of responsibility.
Employers should not see training as an optional extra or just as something to ‘get done’ to ‘tick’ the proverbial ‘box’. Neither should it be viewed as something to do to placate auditors or enforcement officers. But rather, as something positive which can have a direct effect on peace of mind and the overall profitability and reputation of the business.

The Benefits for Employees

As well as complying with the law, the main benefit of investing in training is ensuring that staff members are equipped to carry out their jobs competently, safely and confidently. It also ensures that standards across the establishment remain high and that consistency is maintained. As well as enabling employees to keep their knowledge and skills up-to-date, staff training also has a direct impact on morale and productivity. For example, where staff members recognize that the business owners value their contribution because they have invested in training and development, this will generally show in greater commitment and longevity, and retaining skilled staff is key to any successful business. Just on a practical level, trained staff who are motivated to come to work because they feel valued is what all potentially successful businesses need.

Training does not stand alone

Training does not stand alone nor is it a panacea against food poisoning, mal-practice or contamination. Remember that knowledge without application is effectively useless. It is imperative that knowledge gained from training is applied. It is worth noting that in a lot of food poisoning outbreaks, ignorance is not always responsible.
Training should be underpinned by effective supervision, and is something that is not a ‘once for all’ event. Refresher training and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) should be carried out regularly to ensure that skills and knowledge are kept up-to-date.
Want a successful food business?
Start by investing in staff training!

CaterSafe can deliver a range of on-site and off-site courses by professional trainers, ensuring that you and your staff comply with the law and develop skills and knowledge to enhance your business.
For more details, please contact a member of our training team.

FAQ

Frequently asked questions

Q. My staff need food hygiene training, but I haven’t got the qualifications or the time to train them, and I certainly can’t afford to close my business so they can attend a training course elsewhere. How can CaterSafe help?

A. We offer on-the-job training. We will come to you and train your staff in their actual working environment, so that all training is relevant and job-specific, and your staff aren’t absent when you need them most.

Q. Is HACCP mandatory for all food businesses, even a small business like mine?

A.Yes it is. HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) is a legal requirement for all food businesses. You must have a food safety management system based on the principals of HACCP. Under current legislation, a “food business” is defined as an organization, whether for profit or not, public or private, that either prepares, processes, manufactures, packages, stores, transports, distributes handles, sells or supplies food. We offer technical advice (including a written, Food Safety Management System and HACCP Manual, specific to your business) and training so that your business implements and complies with these requirements in a way that is appropriate for you.

Q. I own a small business and I’m not sure that I would be able to afford your fees. How much do you charge?

A. If you’re very sensitive about cash-flow, then you probably can’t afford to close your business for even a day in order to rectify problems identified by your local Environmental Health Officer.

An initial consultation with CaterSafe is normally free and without obligation. We work with you to ensure the money you spend on our advice is an investment which adds value to your business. We don’t believe in a ‘one size fits all’ approach or in using a “sledge hammer to crack a nut”. Our fees are dependent on the size and complexity of your business. Clients will always receive details of our fees in writing prior to CaterSafe undertaking any work on their behalf.

Q: How much do your retainer packages cost?

A: Our retainer packages vary in price, depending on your specific needs and the size of your business and scale of your operations. Our packages start from as little as £40 per month which is an affordable and cost effective solution.

Q: Isn’t e-learning the way forward? What’s the benefit of sitting a ‘classroom’ based training course?

A: Whilst we offer a suite of our own high quality, accredited e-leaning courses (which are some of the best available on the market), our team of trainers are also fully qualified and experienced teachers, who have professional and widespread experience within education.

We have found that most candidates understand and retain information on our taught courses, much better, and therefore are more likely to apply the knowledge gained. This is why as a company, in most instances, we would advocate a ‘face-to-face’ taught course over an e-learning equivalent.

Whilst e-learning does have many benefits and can be an effective and convenient way to train, especially if time-constraints are an issue. However, a frequently encountered problem, in our experience, is the tendency for some learners to view e-learning as merely a means to an end; a quick and easy way to gain a “certificate” without expending much in the way of effort or cost.

We believe that in most cases (particularly at higher levels), deeper learning tends to take place when it has been delivered in a lively and passionate way, as well as learners benefiting greatly from the interaction with peers and tutors alike.

We aim to send your staff away from our courses, enthused; with a new vision in how to apply what they have learnt to their day-to-day duties, thus adding value to your business.

As a company, we base the way we teach on integrity and excellence. We believe imparting to our learners knowledge, which in turn effects behaviour, – rather than just ‘facts to pass a test’.