Training employees in any food manufacturing operation is challenging. There is not only a moral responsibility to produce safe food but also a legal responsibility in complying with the current GMPs. Specific sections of the Food Safety Modernization Act going into effect as recently as 2020, coupled with challenges associated with the pandemic have also created difficulties in staffing enough trained personnel to work all scheduled shifts.

If employees are not following proper food safety protocols and regulations, even a small bakery could have an impact on thousands of consumers. Effective training of both full-time and temporary staff is necessary and can be accomplished in several different ways to help avoid food safety issues.

Some facilities start each shift with a brief training session, focusing on key best practices or opportunities for improvement. Training that addresses not only “how” to do something but also “why” can be particularly effective. There are also several cost-effective online courses that guide entry-level, temporary and even seasoned full-time employees through essential food safety practices. Reminders should then be reinforced throughout shifts by line leaders and can also be posted in key locations such as breakrooms and restrooms. 

While they are being trained, temporary employees should be utilized in areas that may not have as much of an impact on food safety. They can also be supervised and closely monitored by full-time employees who provide guidance in situations that may pose a food safety risk.

The Food & Drug Administration does not separate findings or violations depending on whether employees are full-time or temporary. Thus, it is the responsibility of the company to ensure all employees working with food products are trained so thatthose foods are prepared, packaged and handled in a manner that does not put consumers at risk.      

Jesse Leal is a food safety professional for AIB International.