Foodborne illnesses have been receiving more media coverage recently. This has led to greater public awareness and we all need to increase food safety training levels for employees working in the food industry. This is essential for food safety and public health.
It is not only a requirement to meet food safety regulations but also a responsibility towards end clients as well as the general safety of people.
Prevent food product contamination:
- Ensuring food workers have an understanding of basic food protection practices: First of all, if employees understand food protection practices, such as staying clean and disease free, it goes a long way to prevent product contamination. Something as basic as hand washing prevents a range of complicated food borne illnesses. (Such as Salmonella typhi, Shigella species, shiga toxin-producing E. coli, or hepatitis A virus.)
- Ensuring no hair in food: Because it is important to acknowledge that hair in food is one of the most common errors in the food industry. While it is a human mistake, it is a potential source of microbiological and physical contamination. Wearing hairnets, beard covers and long sleeved smocks are essential.
- Ensuring minimal contamination as possible: It is not easy to completely eradicate contamination. This is because of microbes in the air that cannot be humanly prevented from entering food. However, employees can take key steps by wearing clean uniforms or disposable apparel. Keeping processing areas and utensils sanitized and not wearing jewelry that may fall into food.
- Keeping the food area disease free: Employees with flu or a cold should stay home. Coming to work sick can expose others at work and may contaminate food, leading to potentially much bigger issues.
Finger nails must always be clean and cut, personal hygiene maintained, and any illness reported. It is essential to equip employees with the correct personal protection products including food handling gloves, hair nets, beard guards (beard nets/covers) and face masks. Employers in the food industry must ideally provide a thoughtful and comprehensive training program.
Here are few things to remember when providing food safety training:
- Use of language
Employees may not share the same native tongue as the employer. Translate instructions, practices, processes, and procedures to a language employees understand best. Explain the importance and benefits when you use disposable gloves during food handling.
Just like salary negotiations happen prior to employment, it is important to communicate proper and preferred hygiene practices at the same time. It is essential to be clear and precise. Wearing their hairnets and beard covers must be fully explained to the potential employee.
A reaffirmation of the proper hygiene practices is essential with periodic training programs as well as innovative approaches such as displays of signs with pictures of good practices. Again, language plays a major role and context. Cater to the employee’s known language.
Lastly, use safe steps in food handling, cooking, and storage to prevent food-borne illness. You can’t see, smell, or taste harmful bacteria that may cause illness. Keep food safety in mind for your employees, yourself, the consumer, and the general public.