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A lack of food safety is a major problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 48 million Americans get sick every year as a result of food-borne illness. For some, these consequences are massive: 128,000 people are hospitalized, and 3,000 die on an annual basis as a result of food-borne illness.

There is good news, however: With proper training and awareness, food safety risks can be significantly minimized. How can this be done? Here are some thoughts.

Employees must, unquestionably, be made aware of the various rules that they need to follow when they are conducting business. This means that regular education is key. In today’s age, this education can occur in a variety of different ways, and generally speaking, it is better to educate your employees by using a multitude of different methods. These include:

  • e-Learning, which can be done at work or at home. This e-Learning can incorporate a variety of different educational methods, including tests, animations, lectures, interactive components, and more.
  • Periodic, interactive in-person training, which can give employees the opportunity to ask questions and review the latest available information.

As an employer, it is not enough to just train your employees by giving them knowledge. You must make sure they fully understand the stakes and know why food safety is so important. You must make sure that your employees not only fully comprehend what the rules are, but why those rules are so necessary. You must make sure they know that failure to comply with those rules can have consequences not only for their careers but for the health and safety of those who consume the products they are involved in producing.

Safety Culture

This means that you have to not only train your employees but create a culture that values safety above all else. Management should lead by example, emphasizing safety above profits. Your manufacturing facility should have ample signage, explaining what employees should be doing, what the rules are, where to go for questions, and how to report safety violations.

Continuous

It’s also important to recognize that employee education and safety isn’t a “once and done” sort of thing. You must do whatever you can to regularly update your education and safety procedures, making sure to incorporate the latest practices, information, and laws.

Covid-19

The COVID-19 outbreak is a great example of why this is so important. There is no doubt, of course, that COVID has had a massive impact on the food manufacturing industries, forcing an even more stringent emphasis on training for employees on proper safety and sanitation procedures. For many employers, this can be expensive and time-consuming.

However, if your organization has already established procedures for how to update educational materials and get that information to your staff, this process becomes much easier, as new information can simply be plugged into already existing platforms. e-Learning has also been critical during the COVID pandemic, as it has allowed employees to engage in education in the comfort and safety of their own homes, minimizing their risks.

Last, it is important that employees regularly refresh their educational materials, even if there is not an active global pandemic. Rules, manufacturing processes, and technology regularly change, and your company must ensure that your employee’s knowledge changes as well. It is only by regularly updating educational and safety procedures that a company can truly ensure the safety and health of the products they produce.

A recent study has come to a rather definitive solution as it pertains to food waste in the manufacturing process. Thankfully, the same study was able to identify the cause and a potential solution.

First, the study. In January 2019, researchers at Brunel University and Ghent University examined 47 food manufacturers in Belgium, attempting to find where the most food loss was found. When food waste occurred, almost 11% was due to human error. This reason was easily the highest cause of food waste.

The reasoning? According to the study, a lack of standardization, visual management or management supervision. A lack of set procedures or a standard of manufacturing led to this loss.

It’s also important to note that this food waste was not a small number: For every 35 tons of food produced, 1 ton was lost.

The Need For Training

The study identified numerous potential areas for both management and line production workers that can be potentially studied. These include:

  • Setting and adhering to standard procedures.
  • Identifying common errors and ways to prevent them.
  • Correct ways to switch out products, also identified as a key issue when it came to food waste.
  • Appropriate supervision tactics.
  • Appropriate measurement of food waste.

The study also noted that this issue was particularly prevalent at many smaller manufacturers. Unfortunately, this makes sense, as it is very possible that many of these smaller firms are unaware of just how much food they are wasting and may not have access to the tools available which can better train workers.

Thankfully, the same study identified a possible solution to this issue: Increased management supervision and training within the food process.

Numerous training modules already exist that would allow for this training to be conducted. E-learning and online training can be ideal for these situations, and particularly appropriate during the COVID-19 outbreak that has shut down large swaths of the world economy. Indeed, E-learning can be ideal for many of these training opportunities, providing that online training is followed up with practical demonstrations.

This type of training comes with numerous benefits. It can be done at any time, in any place, ensuring that typical barriers to training are removed. It can be done on a massive scale and for as many employees as a manufacturer chooses. It is also cost-effective and can be done for an employer’s entire workforce at the fraction of a cost of in-person training.

As we specialize in trusted e-learning solutions for the food industry, we can help reduce your food waste with effective e-learning. Please contact us.