According to a survey, almost two-thirds of firms are highly concerned about the impact of a poor food safety audit or enforcement on their business.

Research found that just under half of food companies claim that food safety and compliance with regulations are their top priorities.

While nearly three-quarters of food business owners and managers believe they are very knowledgeable about food safety, only 52 percent feel that their staff have this level of knowledge about the issue.

Safefood surveyed 400 food business owners and managers in Ireland in July and August. Companies involved had between one and 49 employees. The group promotes food safety and nutrition in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Trish Twohig, director of food safety at Safefood, said: “We know that running a food business comes with a long list of to-do’s and that training can often go on the back-burner due to competing demands; more than half of the business who took part in our survey said that finding time was the biggest challenge for them when it came to staff training. The cost of training was the next biggest challenge for more than one in three food businesses.”

Training module for companies
Safefood has created a free food safety e-learning training tool for small businesses.

Analysis of those accessing the training revealed that 67 percent are learners from the food retail or catering industry, followed by 17 percent in education and 14 percent working in food or feed processing and production.

“With more than 3,000 unique users already, this reflects the real demand that’s out there among food business owners and managers to provide training commensurate with the demands of their staff,” said Twohig.

The platform uses multimedia and interactive training modules with real-life scenarios. Managers and small business owners can track staff progress while training, so it can be used for new employees as part of the induction process, as re-training for those returning to the industry, or as refresher training.

Topics included are the importance of food safety, food microbiology, temperature control, personal hygiene, cleaning, allergen control, pest control, and HACCP.

Seany McCleary, a training user from Blasta Street Kitchen in Monaghan, said: “We’ve been in business since 2017, and finding the time for food safety training can be challenging. I can also check online to see how they’re getting on. As a small business owner, it gives me a lot of confidence.” 

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