Decrease in food safety training a ‘ticking time bomb’

Posted by Josette Dunn on 10th September 2010

Food businesses are cutting back on food safety and hygiene training, according to a survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).The survey, which took place in the second week of August was sent out to 5000 food safety trainers and training centres.Around 50 percent of trainers thought the uptake of food safety training by food businesses was being negatively affected by the present economic climate. 70 percent identified ‘cost cutting’ as the main reason why businesses were not investing in training.

Commenting, David Kidney, CIEH Head of Policy, said:

“This survey is cause for concern and if this trend continues public health could be put at risk – potentially triggering a food poisoning time bomb.

“Proper instruction or training of food handlers in food hygiene is a legal obligation and businesses must ensure that their staff have the skills to ensure the health and wellbeing of the customers they serve.

“The economic downturn has meant many businesses have had to rein in spending, which is understandable, but quality training needs to be seen as an investment which protects your staff, your business and your company’s reputation. A food poisoning outbreak can be the death knell for a food business and can have a myriad of consequences from reputational damage to business failure.

“In extreme cases failure to comply with food safety legislation can even result in a prison sentence and/or being prohibited from running a food business in future. In over a quarter of the prosecutions which have led to the business manager being prohibited since January 2009, failure to comply with the legislation on instruction and/or training was one of the offences.

“The growth of cheap online food safety training and training solutions is also on the rise according to our survey, but businesses need to be aware that the information they are receiving may not necessarily be accurate and up-to-date. Anyone can set up a food safety training business online and sell a course to public.

“Make sure the course you choose is fit for your purpose and that you are not wasting your precious resources on cowboy companies.”