A new free eLearning tool for small and medium-sized food businesses across Northern Ireland has been launched by Safefood to provide basic food safety training to new staff as they manage a post-pandemic increase in demand.
Food industry workshops hosted by Safefood revealed that many staff working in SME food businesses don’t have a high level of food safety knowledge.
They also revealed that they struggle to prioritise food safety due to the competitive pressures of the food industry, coupled with small profit margins and high staff turnover.
‘Safefood for business’ is a free online training programme in basic food safety for SME food businesses across food service, catering, retail and manufacturing sectors in Northern Ireland.
The interactive training programme covers key areas of food safety training in short, practical and engaging modules using real-life and work-place scenarios.
Introducing the new eLearning tool, Ray Dolan, CEO Safefood, said: “Building a culture of good food safety benefits both the public and those food businesses that supply them.
“There are approximately 50,000 businesses producing food across the island of Ireland and around 80 per cent of these are small food producers.
“Having met many small food business owners through our Knowledge Network, we understand the pressures they face and how they have a lot on their plate, including food safety training.
“Our aim is to provide business owners with a free and practical food safety training tool that fits their needs.”
Susanne Taggart, owner of Dromore-based multi-award-winning artisan bakery The Little Bakehouse NI, is a small food business owner that has utilised the resource.
She said: “As a small business we are proud to be involved in developing and refining the ‘Safefood for business’ eLearning resource.
“We are passionate about food safety and ensuring our products are produced safely and adhere to legal requirements.
“When it comes to food safety, there is no room for complacency.
‘Safefood for business’ was developed in collaboration with small food business owners, like me, to ensure the resource is relevant and informative.
“This fantastic e-learning resource will play a crucial role in helping address a real training gap for small and medium-sized food businesses in the provision of basic food safety training to new and existing staff.
“I would urge all small and medium-sized food businesses to utilise this free resource.”
‘Safefood for business’ teaches staff the importance of food safety and develop their knowledge on essential criteria such as personal hygiene, cleaning essentials, temperature control, food microbiology, allergens in food and pest control.
The training programme will allow SME food businesses to provide and track staff training on-site, awarding module completion certificates and a course completion certificate.
Dr Linda Gordon, Chief Specialist in Microbiology with Safefood, said: “We designed Safefood for Business to be practical for small food businesses so it uses short training modules with real-life scenarios.
“Because managers and small-business owners can track staff progress while training, it is ideal both for new staff as part of their induction process, as well as re-training staff returning to the industry.”
n ‘Safefood for business’ is available at www.safefoodforbusiness.com