In the labor-heavy food industry, human error is a major cause of any potential issues during operational hours. Considering the fast-paced nature of this industry, how are these mishaps to be avoided? The answer lies in robust food safety and hygiene training aimed at both food handlers and management alike. It is estimated that the food industry would save over $6 billion in revenue if adequate food safety training programs are implemented on a global scale.1,2

Regardless of domain, effective training requires a few basic tools to help ensure that any and all information being relayed to a trainee is reliable, up-to-date, and applicable in all cases where it may be required. Some of these tools are described below.

Training Material

Clear and concise food safety and hygiene training material, that is able to cover all important aspects of food safety and hygiene, is a principal tool required for food safety training. It is crucial to remember that any training material used for the purpose of training food handlers should be revised regularly and updated, when necessary, as food safety regulations may be subject to change and/or update.

Qualified Trainers

An experienced and qualified food safety and hygiene trainer is another essential tool for effective food safety and hygiene training; the presence of an experienced trainer ensures that effective food safety and hygiene training programs of all levels and types can be executed effectively. Moreover, an experienced trainer will also be able to draw on their own experiences in a food environment during training sessions, thereby providing food handlers with examples of real-life situations where food safety principles come into play.

Training Methodology

In addition to the above tools, particularly where food safety and hygiene are concerned, another crucial factor for effective training is the ability to discern which training methodology will be most useful for a particular establishment. The categories of training methodologies that are currently being used in the industry are of two main types. They are classroom-style training and on-the-job training.

Classroom-Style Training

This type of training is a common methodology that usually consists of a classroom-style setting where a large number of food handlers are trained in food safety and hygiene theory by an experienced and qualified food safety and hygiene trainer. This type of training session is usually conducted over the span of 60–90 minutes, on average.  

Although most individuals are accustomed to this kind of training from an early age, it still begs the question: are training sessions like this practical, and more importantly, are they effective? In a fast-paced environment such as food manufacturing or catering facilities, the reality is that most food handlers will not have the time to undergo such rigorous training sessions on a daily basis. More significantly, studies have demonstrated that long training sessions do not necessarily translate to better-informed food handlers—in fact, lengthy training sessions can contribute to unreliable knowledge retention by food handlers. 

The most effective way that classroom-style training can be implemented is through the creation of a strategic training program that includes classroom-style sessions, but takes into consideration time constraints and the attention spans of food handlers themselves. A classroom-style session once a week, or once a month for time span of 60 minutes, will suffice in most scenarios.

On-The-Job Training

In a fast-paced environment such as a catering facility, for example, it may prove difficult to provide food handlers with longer, classroom-style training sessions. More importantly, it may take significant time to complete a food safety and hygiene curriculum. A solution to these predicaments is the implementation of on-the-job training for food handlers, which can enable trainers to:

  1. Provide food handlers with short bursts of information which may be better absorbed 
  2. Observe food handlers in action and correct them when required
  3. Evaluate food handlers on a regular basis to ensure that information is retained and applied when required.

Various advantages exist to the on-the-job training methodology from a food handler's perspective, as well. It facilitates frequent refresher training, immediate corrective action implementation, and an acute understanding of facility processes, thereby making it easier to identify any process deviations. 

Additionally, all food establishments will not have uniform operational requirements, and on-the-job training can help account for these differences and prepare food handlers for food safety issues that are specific to their facility. More importantly, studies also show that over 70 percent of food handlers prefer on-the-job training from their managers, as opposed to classroom-style training.

Food safety and hygiene training is a crucial component in the success of a food establishment. Effective training programs are the greatest contributing factor to the development of a robust food safety culture. Food handlers are the first line of defense against food safety threats within a facility; consequently, they should be equipped with the right tools and knowledge required to combat food safety and hygiene issues within their control.


  1. Andre, L. "81 Important Food Industry Statistics: 2021/2022 Data Analysis and Market Share." Financesonline.
  2. World Health Organization. "Food Safety."