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Home / Blog / Food Safety / What training is mandatory in the food industry? 

When you work within the food industry, you are responsible for making sure that customers get delicious food and that this is delivered to them at the best quality possible. Not only is this high-pressure enough, but you are also going to be responsible for keeping them safe too.  

This means that when it comes to training, there are going to be courses that not only help you to keep your customers as happy as possible but also how to ensure that the food they eat is not going to cause them any harm.  

To help you to work out which training courses are going to be most relevant to your colleagues, here is our guide on the Learn Q courses that are most applicable to the food industry and the type of work that you do.  

Mandatory Courses 

Some of the courses that you need to complete are mandatory. This means that you have a legal requirement to make sure you and our team have taken the training and have the required certificate. In many industries, including the food industry, non-compliance could mean fines and even imprisonment if your business is audited / inspected. 

It is always wise to provide any training courses that you know to be a legal requirement to all new starters, and it can be an important part of your induction plan and process.  

The main legislation that is applicable to food businesses are:

Mandatory courses for food businesses include:

Food Safety Level 2  

Also known as food hygiene certificate, the Level 2 food safety is the most important course for you and your employees and must be taken by anyone who comes into contact with food that is served to customers. The Level 2 Food Safety course is designed to help you to meet the Food Hygiene Regulations 2005 as well as the Food Safety Act 1990. Both of these are there to ensure that everyone who eats food away from their home is going to be as safe as possible.  

Level 3 Award in Food Safety 

Food Safety level 3 is more advanced safety training which is suitable for those in supervisory and management roles. It covers additional subjects including the role and responsibilities of owners, managers and supervisors, HACCP management systems, food microbiology, food contamination, illness prevention, pest control and the legal impacts of poor food hygiene safety.

Allergen Awareness

Identifying the 14 allergens and handling foods containing allergens is a legal requirement for food handlers. An allergen awareness course provides learners with information about food allergies and intolerances, allergic reactions and symptoms, the 14 allergens and products that contain them. There is information about the operator’s responsibilities, what information should be on pre-packaged food labels, and how you can ensure the safety of your customers.

HACCP

Failure to comply with HACCP requirements can result in legal action being taken against your food business and could ultimately lead to it being closed. A HACCP course will guide you on the importance of a food safety management system, the types of hazards in a food business and how to implement a HACCP food management system. At least one person in your business should complete this course so that you can implement the right systems.

Bribery Act Awareness 

In the UK, due to the Bribery Act 2010 it is a legal requirement for all businesses to ensure adequate training and protection is in place against bribery and corruption. Bribery can and does happen in businesses around the world; protecting yourself from the impact of bribery is important, and the best way to do this is to ensure that every colleague within your business understands what bribery is and what they need to do to stop it from happening.  

GDPR Awareness 

GDPR regulations are related to how you store and use customer data, so this may or may not be something that is applicable to your business. If you collect and store any personal information on customers, such as names, email addresses, phone numbers or physical address details then it will apply to you. Failure to comply with GDPR and consumer data requests could see your business facing fines of up to £18 million, or four per cent of annual turnover, whichever is greater. In order to protect your business, it is vital you and your employees have an understanding of the principles of GDPR and what to do in the case of requests.

Health and Safety 

As outlined in the Health and Safety First Aid Regulations 1981 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers should ensure the number of trained first aiders, first aid facilities and equipment at their workplace is adequate for the needs of the workplace. Ensuring all colleagues take a health and safety course, will help them to gain a deeper understanding of health and safety basics, the most common health and safety risks and how to avoid them, and the obligations of employers and employees. This will go a long way to helping you remain compliant, keep colleagues safe and prevent any legal action against your business.

Fire Safety 

Under UK law (Fire Safety Order 2005 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999), a company must provide appropriate fire fighting equipment, ensure that colleagues know what to do in the event of a fire, assess fire risks to your individual business and have a fire risk assessment available at all times. A fire safety course is one of the most common ways to ensure you are compliant, covering the basics of fire safety and giving your colleagues an understanding of how to keep themselves and those around them safe. It shows the ways that a fire can develop and what can lower the risk of fires, as well as what to do in the case of a fire.  If you have a number of colleagues, you may also want at least one member of your team to complete Risk Assessment Awareness training so that you can carry out appropriate risk assessments within the business, and RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) Awareness so that your colleagues know how they should report any work-related illnesses and injuries.

Workplace Harassment 

The Equality Act 2010 contains sections that specifically relate to sexual harassment in the workplace, and in July 2021, the UK government introduced legislation meaning employers are now responsible for providing a workplace free of harassment, meaning that as well as providing employees with up-to-date training in anti-harassment, employers must demonstrate that they have current anti-harassment policies in place. Harassment is against the law and if a colleague is harassed it could lead to an employment tribunal involving your business.  This means that you should do what you can to limit the instances of workplace harassment and how it can be reported and prevented. This workplace harassment course looks at social media, physical bullying and how bullying can be influenced by prejudices and stereotypes.  

Strongly Recommended Courses

As well as having courses that are mandatory legal requirements, here at Learn Q we also provide many food industry businesses with training courses that we strongly recommend that you offer. Although not a legal requirement, these courses can really help your business to run smoothly and protect your business, your colleagues and your customers. 

Anti-Money Laundering 

Any business can be at risk of money laundering; however, the practice of essentially “cleaning” money from criminal activity is often seen in the food industry. As a business owner, you need to ensure that you understand how to protect yourself from money laundering. You also need to provide your colleagues with anti-money laundering training so that they can be aware too.  

Equality and Diversity 

If you work with a number of colleagues, another consideration is equality and diversity training.  The Equality Act 2010 means that equal opportunities for everyone must be available in all businesses. This training is designed so that you not only understand how to improve diversity in your own business, but also so your colleagues understand equality and diversity and what they must do to ensure it.  

Display Screen Equipment (DSE)  

DSE training is a legal requirement for anybody working with display screen equipment on a regular basis. Working with computers and display screens is not always a key part of the food industry. However, it can form a part of the role and the working day. Think about DSE for taking or processing orders, or for stock control, completing accounts, admin tasks or marketing.  This means that we strongly recommend this DSE course, covering the basics of working with Display Screen Equipment and how to keep yourself safe when it comes to working on a screen.  

Manual Handling 

By law, employers must minimise the risk of injuries resulting from manual handling operations by avoiding, assessing, and reducing them. There is always a chance in the food industry that you or your colleagues are going to need to lift something that is heavy or hard to move. If so, manual handling training can help; to prevent injuries to colleagues and any related legal action. This is why manual handling is important. This training course teaches the principles of good manual handling and gives you all the skills and knowledge that you need to enable you to lift safely. No matter what it is that you are trying to move.  

Age Verification Awareness 

There are legal limits on the age of someone who can be served alcohol in the UK, and in the Licensing Act 2003, it is now set out that any company that serves alcohol to someone underage is at risk of being fined, suspended or closed down completely. If you serve alcohol in your business, offering your entire team the Age Verification Awareness course means they will be better placed to understand these regulations and also be able to identify those who may need further proof of age.  

COSHH Awareness 

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health is a legal requirement that means employers need to control substances – such as chemicals (and products containing them), fumes, vapours and dust – that can endanger the health of their employees. This may or not be relevant to your business but with all businesses there is always a chance that you may also work with substances that could be hazardous or dangerous, such as cleaning products. COSHH Awareness training details all the basics that need to be understood and covers how every colleague can keep themselves, other colleagues and customers safe.   

Infection Control Awareness 

As we saw during the pandemic, infections are transmitted easily, and when you work within food, there is always a chance that infections can be transmitted between colleagues or customers. Infection Control Awareness training helps reduce the impact of an outbreak, by increasing understanding of how infections spread, identifying who is at risk, and explaining the standard procedures for infection control. 

Slips, Trips and Falls  

When you work with food, there is always a chance that you can spill or drop certain substances, and then, with these spillages, there is a risk of slips, trips or falls for either colleagues or customers, which could lead to legal action against your company. One way to reduce this risk is by providing appropriate training. Having this training helps you and your colleagues to look at how to minimise the risk of all of slips, trips or falls happening and details what to do, should they still happen.  

Consumer Rights Act 

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 was created in order to protect customers when they buy physical goods, digital content or sign up for services. It is there to ensure not only that the rights of the consumer are met and also ensures that businesses  are not misleading customers or mis-selling products, services or content to them. This training course is designed to look at the Consumer Rights Act and how it can apply to a business and its customers.  It is recommended that at least one person in a business is familiar with this act and its implications.

Recommended 

Additional to those mandatory and strongly recommended courses in the food industry, there are also courses that are a good idea to provide to some of the key colleagues who work with you. These will often be more soft skills or perhaps skills that relate to leadership.  

Sustainable Workplace 

Every single one of us needs to do whatever we can to try and protect our planet and to protect it from environmental damage. One way that we can do this is to identify ways that our workplaces can be more sustainable. This training course is there to help everyone within your business to be aware of how to ensure that they take steps towards being more sustainable and that they know how important it is that they are a part of the process.  

Unconscious Bias 

Even if we try hard not to think about people a certain way just by the way that they look or where they are from, unconscious bias can still be an issue. This Unconscious Bias course will help your colleagues to consider their own biases and how they can stop this from happening in the future, which can have the knock on effect of helping them to remain compliant with the Equality Act 2010.

Handling Complaints  

Dealing with customers and any issues can be a big part of working in the food industry. It can be hard to know how to approach complaints and make sure that they are resolved, which is why we recommend this handling complaints course. Designed to offer you everything you need to help you to offer support to customers and to ensure that they feel that their concerns are being addressed.  

Conflict Resolution 

Working with people can be tricky, especially if you are in a high-stress environment. This can lead you to fall out, and conflicts can occur. Being a leader means that you may need to deal with these conflicts and ensure that they are resolved and that everyone is happy with the outcome.  

Managing People 

One of the trickiest parts of being a manager, no matter what industry you work in, is managing the people that you work with. This training course can offer your managers the chance to learn some of the key skills on how to manage people and how to ensure that they are good leaders of their teams.  

Staff Appraisal Skills 

When it comes to improving yourself and how you work, staff appraisals are key. They are the chance to discuss how things have progressed and the changes that could be made to further improve the way that you work as a team and as an individual. This staff appraisal course helps you to work with colleagues on your team through the somewhat tricky process of appraisals.  

How often do colleagues need to take this training?

The answer to the question of how often the courses should be repeated is not always as straightforward as you may hope and there is not necessarily a set answer across all organisations. For many courses it will really depend on the type of course that is being taken and the nature of what you do. Ideally, the refresh regularity should be based on a thorough risk assessment of your business and tailored to the unique needs of your organisation and customers.

That said, if you are looking for a general rule, then we would say every 12 months is good practice for most of the courses that we offer.

There are some exclusions to this that do need to be kept in mind:

  • In the case of an internal incident- if there has been an incident within your business where an employee, a customer or a client has been injured, then this then means that it is important to refresh all staff members with the relevant training in order to minimise the chance of it happening again.   
  • In the case of an external incident- if there has been an incident outside of your business but within your industry, then this could be a time to refresh relevant training. Of course, this will only be applicable if the incident is severe and you think that it poses a risk to your business and those who work within it and those who are clients. At the very least, it is going to be worthwhile refreshing their Health and Safety training.   
  • If a process changes- if an internal process has changed, then it is going to be a good time to refresh any training that relates to this process. Particularly if you feel that it might impact what has been previously learnt.  
  • If you bring in new equipment- if you bring in new equipment for your staff members to use, then you should provide them with training that is relevant to this change. Even if the change is slight, after all, prevention is always better than cure.   
  • If there has been a change in the environment- if you move premises or you have some changes made to where you work, then you will need to think about some of the training. This includes COSHH and Health and Safety.   

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