Training – please step forward if you are the person in charge!

By Linda Jackson on 01 August 2018

The new R638 has brand new and fairly onerous requirements related to training. (I have to own up and admit that I lobbied for these changes several years ago in an attempt to improve the status of food safety training in the country.)


It’s about the WHO

The new regulation makes it compulsory for the person in charge (the name on the certificate of acceptability) to be trained for the first time.

There is a lot of research to support this new requirement.


The EHS-Net of the CDC in the USA found that restaurants with kitchen managers certified in food safety were less likely to have critical violations on their inspections. They analyzed 8,338 routine inspection reports for 4,461 restaurants in Iowa. During routine inspections, inspectors checked whether restaurants met Iowa food safety rules. They used a 44-item checklist. Some items on the checklist are called critical violations. If not fixed, these items are more likely than others to cause illness or a health risk. Their results showed that restaurants with Certified kitchen managers (managers that have attended a food safety training course and passed an assessment) (CKM’s) had fewer of most types of critical violations. This suggests that CKMs may be better able to control risk factors for foodborne illness. CKMs may also provide better on-the-job training, which increases safe food handling by food workers.

In simple terms, without training in food safety, it could be the “blind leading the blind” which can spell disaster for the consumer and your reputation.


The HOW of training

Unfortunately, the regulation does not provide a definition of accredited. The draft regulation had indicated full SAQA accreditation as a requirement but this was not included in the final version promulgated. Training provided by an inspector(the Environmental health practioner)is also still acceptable but records of training are a requirement. You are advised to make use of credible training providers and to ensure you have sufficient knowledge, our recommendation is at least 2 days of training. (Times varies from 1 day to 5 days in other parts of the world).

To get the most value out of this training, it is essential to make sure that a person who directly oversees and manages food production is certified. In many smaller food service establishments, such as restaurants, it is not uncommon for the owner to be certified. This is only a good idea if the owner is in constant supervision of his kitchen. Many restaurant owners spend more time supervising the floor and taking care of guests than overseeing the day to day operations of the kitchen staff. If this is the case, you should consider your Chef, Sous Chef or kitchen manager for certification.

In large scale establishments, we suggest an overseer of production gain certification. They will have a much easier time dealing with food safety issues than a manager who spends little time supervising production. If you are coordinating multiple locations, keep in mind that there must be one certified manager at each location. Ideally there should always be a certified person present whenever the business is operating. You should consider having several key people certified so that there is always coverage.


And now the rest

Once you are trained, you could train your staff if this is something you have time and the inclination for. Alternatively use a training provider who delivers a programme at an appropriate level and possibly using a translator. Make sure you make enough time available for this critical activity. You will need at least 0.5 days for time type of training and this is pushing the limits. Carefully consider how you will evaluate the effectiveness of training as a test may not give you the right results – employees may fail due to poor literacy but not necessarily a lack of understanding of food safety.

Routine assessments are required by the regulation which means you should review your staff to ensure they are still implementing the correct practices they have learned. If you find any nonconformances, you should retrain your staff or provide coaching to make sure these deficiencies are addressed. You can do this by means of internal audits or planned job observations which involves observing an employee during the performance of an activity and assessing their performance.

Interesting fact:
In other parts of the world such as Australia, food handlers must present proof of this training to any future employer. No training – no job. The costs are borne by the employee.




Coming soon...

Technology and training – a solution to R638?