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Saturday, 12 November 2016

Food Safety Training: The Cost of Not Knowing

I have seen it and it is painful to watch. Due to not knowing enough about these things, many people have, and continue to fall for rampant food safety training fraud. 

Many so-called training providers are out there poised to take advantage of desperate and unsuspecting people who are seeking to know more about managing food safety. These are made to pay outrageous amounts of money for training that offer nothing more than opportunities for the trainers to spew industry jargon. Those "trained" who may not have been previously exposed to the jargon may be impressed. They may learn and speak the same jargon. They may take a few distracting proposals from these training activities back to their operations for implementation. Meanwhile, no real progress is achieved in assuring the safety of food in their operations any more than they were able to achieve prior to the training sessions. 
Here are some typical rates that are charged for short-duration training courses that offer nothing more than the regurgitation of information that is available at not cost:
Basic HACCP 
$500
Special Claim Certification Training (for Organic, Gluten-Free and Similar Programs)
$600
GFSI Certification Schemes training
$900
FSMA-Preventive Controls for Human Food
$1000





The prices charged by some training providers may even be higher. What have you been asked or temped to pay?
Did you know that the information provided by some training outfits can be obtained at no cost? Why should the trainers obtaining the information at no cost and then make you pay for it? On the other hand, why should you pay for information that you are able to obtain for free from the rightful owners and providers? Prudence demands a thorough search for available (good) information that is either free or cost very little. If you wish to learn more about sources of good training information that cost little or nothing, you could start your search with the sources provided by CODEX Alimentarius Do not buy into fake training. You should understand the essential elements of real and effective training and proceed accordingly.



Essential Elements of Good Training

Real training must go far beyond lecture hall or on-line presentations. For all practical purposes, the best site for staff training and motivation is your operation site. Real training, to be effective, must be fully practical and realistic. It needs to deal with situations that are real to your operation; not fictitious anecdotes. Effective training requires time investment, rolling up of sleeves as it were, getting in the front lines to understand the real and specific needs of your operation, and designing the training that is relevant. Real training involves continuous culture development and changing of wrong beliefs. Clearly, real training cannot be accomplished in a matter of hours or a few days. Real and effective training requires consistent commitment; not sporadic lectures on a sporadic array of topics from sporadic people who are essentially strangers to the realities that are unique to your operation. Some advertised training activities and the prices charged constitute a form of the food industry fraud. 

You need to look past fanciful advertisements with nicely coined jargon that essentially lack substance. You need to very carefully examine what is offered and measure it against the real needs of your operation. If the information promised in the advertised training activity can be obtained at little or no cost from the rightful source, you should obtain that information from that source. Then you should design and implement your training for effectiveness rather than for show. Don't let the purveyors of quick, drive-by and superficial training sessions that are often overloaded with fanciful industry jargon keep your operation on training wheels.

You could seek outside help in designing and implementing the training that uniquely suits your operation but do not pay for any off-the-shelf training that is excessively priced and does no more than rob you of your money and your time. For the individual, the best place to seek training or self-education beyond the initial job entry qualification (typically obtained through formal education) is in and at the job. By implication, food businesses should be providing training in and at the job for their employees. Certain professional certifications may be obtained by individuals from reputable organizations like American Society for Quality and food safety and quality management scheme owners.

Help may be sought from an invested outside party to design and implement training that must become organic (i.e. kept alive and on-going). The "an Invested" is underlined and in bold letters for a reason. Drive-thru training, on-line training or training through the airwaves by people who have vested interest only in the fees paid to them; but not in your operation is mostly ineffective.

. . .now you know & you can take the helm.

You may have questions or suggestions about other available learning opportunities that cost little to nothing. Please feel free to contact me or post your comments below.
Posted by Felix Amiri
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Felix Amiri is currently the chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection, and a sworn SSQA advocate.

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