safefood is encouraging small food businesses in Northern Ireland to benefit from its free food safety e-learning tool – ‘safefood for business’ – as new research shows that nearly two-thirds (64%) of local food enterprises have extreme concerns with the consequences of food safety breaches.
The research by safefood, the all-island body responsible for promoting food safety and healthy eating, found that just under half (45%) of food businesses claim ‘food safety regulations’ are a top priority.
It also found that only 52% of food business owners or managers felt that their staff are very knowledgeable about food safety guidelines.
‘safefood for business’ is a free food safety e-learning tool for new and existing staff of small and medium-sized food businesses across food service, catering, retail and manufacturing sectors in Northern Ireland.
The resource has been created in response to local food enterprises reporting 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
Local food business owners worked in collaboration with safefood to develop and refine the e-learning resource to ensure it was relevant to the local food industry.
Trish Twohig, Director of Food Safety with safefood, said: “Approximately 80% of food producers are small businesses, and we understand the challenges they face. Our aim is to provide small food business owners with a free and practical food safety training tool that is accessible online, making it easier for food business owners and managers to ensure their staff receives adequate training.”
“This resource will play a crucial role in alleviating the anxiety experienced by 64% of SME food businesses who have expressed their concerns regarding the repercussions of a poor food safety audit or enforcement on their business.”
“More than two in three (67%) of our training users are from the food retail or catering industry followed by almost one in five (17%) in education and 14% 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 that’s commensurate with the demands of their staff.”
‘safefood for business’ uses real-life and work-place scenarios to cover key areas of food safety in short, practical and engaging modules. It includes topics such as personal hygiene, cleaning essentials, temperature control, food microbiology, allergens in food, and pest control. The e-learning resource allows food businesses to provide and track staff training on-site, offering module completion and course completion certificates.
Steven Orr from Bodega Bagels is the head of a local food business in Belfast which has used ‘safefood for business’ as a tool for maintaining food safety standards. Steven said: “I understand the challenges of ensuring food safety while managing a busy operation. Having access to this free and comprehensive food safety e-learning tool has helped us maintain our commitment to food safety standards across the business.
“It allows us to provide essential food safety training to our staff efficiently. The fact that all the resources are available online makes it incredibly flexible for our staff to complete the training on their phones or laptops. I can also easily check online to see how they’re progressing, which gives me a great deal of confidence.”