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Food Safety Supervisor – A Key To Operational System Oversight

by Andrew Thomson on July 9, 2019

Food safety management requires sound operational oversight.

All food operations need strong food safety systems and policies that are enforced and reviewed, extensive employee training and regular checking of internal food supply chains to assist with risk mitigation.

When Victoria first introduced the Food Safety Supervisor into its food legislation in 1997, it was designed for all food operations to have a ‘food safety champion’ to supervise the handling of all food products, manage staff, identify food hazards and take action to alleviate hazards where required in the workplace and provide on-the-job training.

To perform in this role specialised training is required.

A Food Safety Supervisor must have completed accredited training with a Registered Training Organisation (RTO), such as a TAFE or private RTO. The accredited training will include specific Units of Competency to be achieved, which differ across industry sectors. For example, there are Units of Competency for healthcare, hospitality, retail or food processing.

Some RTO’s offer refresher training programs. Through this training, there is the belief the Food Safety Supervisor should be able to keep up to date with key skills and knowledge requirements and developments within their specific industry sector. This suggests the Food Safety Supervisor’s knowledge does diminish over time. Suffice to say, it ticks the accreditation box for employee training without any rigorous assessment by the auditor.

Managers need to regularly review the competence, capabilities and abilities of the Food Safety Supervisor and food handling employees relative to the skills and qualifications needed by the food operation for current and future activities. What is missing for many food handler’s is access to supervision, guidance and support from a knowledgeable senior member of the food operation.

As my food safety colleague Doug Powell recently wrote …. the best (food operations) will far exceed minimal government standards, will proactively test to verify their food safety systems are working, will transparently publicise those results and will brag about their excellent food safety by marketing…. so, consumers can choose safe food.

Food operations that have a strong focus on prevention and have sound food safety systems and provide high quality employee training will minimise food safety risks in their business. It also assists in brand protection and reputation.

* Dr Douglas Powell is a former food safety professor.