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Managing Food Safety Training In Restaurants

by Andrew Thomson on July 31, 2018

Restaurateurs have many challenges to meet on a daily basis. They must continue to satisfy consumers with the quality that they expect by handling the product safely and correctly from start to finish. In addition to keeping their customers happy, restaurateurs also need to worry about keeping their costs in check while maintaining these safety standards, which is not always an easy thing to do. Keeping within budget and remaining viable and profitable is an important goal. With these demands, many businesses continue to remain reactive instead of proactive to meet minimum food law requirements.

The question remains — is this current practice enough to deliver a modern business approach for 2018 and beyond?

The risks….

Food poisoning is a risk every restaurateur should be aware of – and recent media reports have highlighted other food safety incidents. Yet, many restaurateurs miss the opportunity in providing their employees with high quality food safety management training.   As a consultant and board member and a former food regulator I have had many reasons put to me over the years why this form of training is not a priority. These include:

  • high turn-over of employees
  • employee scheduling availability for training
  • manager does not have time
  • a lack of funds for training
  • a lack of training facilities
  • employees don’t follow what I say or procedures.

Whilst some of these issues may be valid, no one would argue that a basic training program in food safety is critical for any new or existing employee to enable them to perform their job well in producing safe food, thereby protecting your business interests and risks.

The way forward…..

It’s important you focus on a solid training program coupled with hands on supervision to reinforce the information. This means you need to have a knowledge of food law and a high degree of understanding of food hygiene and food safety to ensure effective control.

High-quality, customised food safety training is no longer a question of learning information by rote then testing your employees to see what they can recall. It involves demonstrating, in a quite specific way, that they can perform tasks to a standard of performance.

It is critical that your employees have knowledge and understanding of correct food safety practices including food allergens and this is consistently applied on-the-job.

Most of your employees will learn by doing and by practising skills as they perform their daily tasks.

When people develop confidence, they automatically become proactive, solutions-focused and this has a positive flow on effect on all employees across the business.

Make sure you take the time to look at the Vlog The Competent Food Handler which I released as part of a conference presentation to food regulators attending the New Zealand Institute of Environmental Health National Conference. The Vlog provides clear and definitive advice for food service operations.

Investing in the training of your employees is critical to ensuring you stay competitive and meeting your business objectives.

Final word….

Food must be safe to eat. As a food business owner:

  • you must be committed to providing a safe product
  • ensure your employees receive high quality training in food hygiene and safety
  • provide leadership and ongoing support and guidance for food handling employees.

Taking a proactive approach to training employees in all aspects of food safety management is of critical importance for the survival of your business.

Photography: Amanda Kelly Photography

Restaurant: Hyatt Hotel Canberra – A Park Hyatt Hotel

What is your biggest food safety or training issue? Contact Andrew Thomson