Any organisation which operates in the catering and hospitality industry will at some point deal with the handling of packaged and unpackaged food. As a result of this, all employees must be trained on proper food safety procedures, including how to correctly handle and label foods containing known allergens.
It doesn’t matter if you operate in food manufacturing, a supermarket deli, or a restaurant. Food safety training is vital for ensuring that employees can recognise health and safety risks, including cross-contamination, proper storage of food, the handling of allergenic ingredients, and learn how to deal with such risks.
Under the Food Safety Act 1990 and Food Hygiene Regulations 2006, organisations are legally required to provide training to any employees handling food in a catering, manufacturing, or retail environment. This training must equip them with the skills and knowledge to not only handle the food properly but also store it correctly.
There are a number of different topics covered by food safety training courses which make them so important for hospitality & catering jobs. However, two of the most important topics are on the subject of food allergens, and how to minimise cross-contamination.
Since the introduction of the EU Food Information for Consumers Legislation, it has become even more important for anyone handling food to be informed about what the most common allergens are, and how to correctly prepare and store any food containing these ingredients, in order to avoid cross-contamination.
The catering and hospitality industry must be particularly vigilant about allergens as food is often prepared on site and served un-packaged. This means that not only must items containing allergens be clearly highlighted to consumers, but employees must also be able to provide verbal confirmation of which foods contain one or more of the 14 common allergenic ingredients.
Cross-contamination is a serious issue and refers to an incident where either bacteria or harmful allergens have spread from one food item to another, through either improper handling or storage. For example, if gluten-free items are prepared in the same area as ones containing gluten – such as using the same counter or oven – this would be a form of cross-contamination.
Due to the serious health risks posed by cross-contamination, it is one of the vital areas covered in food safety training. While a mild case of food poisoning may simply be an inconvenience to a healthy person, vulnerable individuals, or those with a severe food allergy, could suffer serious consequences should an organisation not take a reasonable level of care to ensure that all sources of contamination are either eliminated or properly handled.
Knowing how to reduce cross-contamination will allow organisations to limit the spread bacteria like E-coli and salmonella – both common causes of food poisoning – which can very easily be transferred between contaminated food, utensils, and surfaces.
Other Benefits of Food Safety Training
While the main purpose of food safety training is to ensure the safety of those preparing and consuming the food, investing in training also offers a number of business benefits to organisations. Not only can training help you increase efficiency, but it will also allow you to reduce your current food waste, and help you to achieve a reputation as an organisation with excellent food hygiene.
As catering and hospitality organisations deal with food on a regular basis, it is easy to see why food safety training is not only vital but beneficial for anyone who chooses to invest in it. After all, healthy and happy customers are far more likely to make a return visit, than someone who has had a bad experience due to a lack of training.