How do we ensure that food safety qualifications contribute to improving food safety?
By Richard Sprenger
Good food safety practice requires managers and supervisors to be competent and knowledgeable about food safety. They should effectively supervise, instruct, and carry out on-the-job training of food handlers in food safety matters relevant to their work activity. To achieve the highest standards managers, supervisors and food handlers will all require effective training at the correct level and relevant to their business.
Training may be considered as ‘the action of teaching a person a particular skill or type of behaviour’ and this will require the provision of knowledge, practice/implementation and motivation. The provision of knowledge may involve books, e-learning, on-the-job training, the internet and classroom-based training. General food safety training usually involves classroom-based training and/or e-learning. One advantage of classroom-based training is that a good trainer will motivate the learners to implement what they are taught when they return to their workplace.
On the completion of the training, some form of assessment is usually carried out to confirm the learner has assimilated a significant amount of the knowledge provided. In some subjects the skill developed may also be tested, although this is most likely to be tested in the business, e.g. how to wash hands or use and verify the accuracy of a thermometer.
It is essential that general food safety training is accurate, up-to-date, science-based, relevant, understandable, at the right level and delivered by a competent trainer who can motivate the learners. The assessment must be valid, reliable, objective, usable, at the right level and fair. The integrity of the assessment is essential. Businesses need to be confident that the results of the assessment are accurate and were achieved without any type of cheating. There should also be a quick and easy way to check that any certificate issued is authentic.
Some training organisations may develop their own food safety training courses and some of these may have good content but some will have poor content. Furthermore, inconsistency between courses will be inevitable. Many will not meet the criteria for good content, outlined above and certificates will not be comparable or easy to validate. Furthermore, the integrity of the assessments may not provide the required level of confidence as there is no third-party quality assurance of the process. This will make it very difficult for employers to compare certificates of training provided by candidates seeking employment.
Qualifications provided by a regulated awarding organisation can make a significant contribution to food safety as they are designed to remove the problems outlined above.
A good qualification from a well-respected and experienced awarding organisation will:
- have been written by an experienced subject matter expert(s) and involve consultation with trainers and specialists within the food industry
- be kept up to date
- be piloted with experienced training centres before launching
The assessment for the qualification will have been developed:
- using robust processes that have several stages of review and quality assurance resulting in final assessments that are current, accurate and fit for purpose
- by a team of professionals that have a wealth of experience across education and training delivery, assessment and awarding
Assessments developed by regulated awarding organisations will:
- always be based on learning outcomes and assessment criteria that have been rigorously reviewed and approved by awarding professionals to ensure they are compliant with regulatory requirements as well as meeting the expectations of qualification users
- be reviewed throughout their lifecycle for reliability and comparability at both paper and question level, ensuring products meet all internal and external standards
The quality assurance of the training centre and the qualification by an awarding organisation will:
- inspire confidence in the integrity of the qualification offered
- assist training centres in providing supportive delivery
- provide support and guidance on the assessment of learners
Training used to provide must be SMART. Use the link for further details: