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Safe Food Canada releases exploratory study


March 23, 2016
By Laura Aiken

Canada – Safe Food Canada (SFC) released the findings of its first research project, which provides insights into the current state of food safety culture in Canada. This exploratory study is the first of its kind into the level of spending on food safety training and education for food industry professionals, reports SFC in a news release.

SFC has a mandate to modernize the way food professionals in Canada learn about food safety and protection. The company conducts research as one of its four areas of business. The study explored how food businesses invest in food safety training. Factors of interest included actual spending by companies on food safety training, employee job satisfaction, and changes to employee competence and performance.

“Safe Food Canada is primarily focused on ensuring that food employees are trained using competency-based, consistent learning frameworks,” said Brian Sterling, SFC president and CEO, in a news release. “This exploratory study points out that SFC can help food organizations by providing valuable information so they can assess the relative payback they get for their investments in training. This sentiment is highly supported by other strong players in the industry, who recognize the value that Safe Food Canada will bring to strengthening Canada’s reputation as a trusted source of food.”

Some of the study’s most relevant findings include:

·      Training for general employees typically is done onsite, with 65 per cent of companies declaring that this further complemented by annual external training sessions.

·      While the current state of food safety training itself is seen as acceptable, there is room for improvement on how to measure the change in performance and financial return on investments from training.

·      Only half of the companies surveyed keep track of their expenditures on food safety training, while 35 per cent either do not keep a record or do not separate food safety expenses from other training costs.

·      The majority of participants said they train from 80 to 100 per cent of frontline employees. These people all receive some type of food safety training annually, varying from classroom education to hands-on training.

Maple Leaf Foods is a leading sponsor of SFC and serves on the company’s board of directors with other food businesses and academic organizations.

“Food safety should never be viewed as a competitive advantage,” said Maple Leaf Foods chief food safety officer and SVP of Operations Randall Huffman, in a news release. “We are strong supporters of Safe Food Canada and its mission to elevate food safety learning and benchmarking across our industry.”

The report recommends that SFC undertake a more thorough benchmark study so that individual food businesses can better understand how their investment in food safety training compares with industry norms and best practices.