The results of the eighth annual Global Food Safety Training Survey—organized by Intertek Alchemy, Campden BRI, BRCGS, BSI, SGS, SQF, and TSI—were recently published, revealing a critical need for improvement. The survey, which assesses the quality and implementation of food safety training at food businesses worldwide, showed that many companies were not following best practices and were just meeting minimum requirements.

These findings have been consistent ever since the survey was launched in 2013 to respond to the need for benchmark data on training practices.

The 2024 Global Food Safety Training Survey included responses from over 3,000 operations around the globe, representing a diverse range of company sizes and sectors within the food and beverage industry. Nearly three-quarters of the participating businesses were food and beverage manufacturers; the rest of the participants included agricultural, packaging, distribution, retail, foodservice, and other operations. Survey questions focused on training budget; competency framework and training needs analysis; how training is delivered and reinforced; how training records are documented and managed; training goals, needs, and challenges; impact of training; onboarding; the role of supervisors; cross-training; professional development; food safety culture; and advanced training technologies.

According to the survey, as reported by Campden BRI, the top three challenges to effective food safety training identified by respondents were:

  1. Scheduling time for training
  2. Resources and staff to manage training delivery and documentation
  3. Leadership support for training.

Overall, approximately 25 percent of respondents rated the quality of their training program as “poor,” while three-fifths rated it “sufficient.” More than 30 percent of respondents thought that their company’s training has no impact on staff retention, while one in ten reported thinking that it has a negative impact. Only about 60 percent of respondents thought that their training program has a positive impact on productivity.

Significantly, nearly three-quarters of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “Despite our training efforts, we still have employees not following established protocols on the floor.” Other key findings, as outlined by Campden BRI, include:

  • Documentation and management of employee training records: Nearly one-third of respondents rely on paper records, followed by Excel spreadsheet, while only one-third use a learning management system or another information technology (IT) solution
  • Competency frameworks, defining knowledge, skills, and behaviors required for each job role: A quarter of survey respondents still do not use a competency framework
  • Use of training needs analysis/assessment to identify needs, gaps, and priorities for individual employees: Only two-fifths of respondents use training needs analysis, with the rest of respondents reporting “no” or “not sure”
  • Use of continuous and updated analytical data to assess training efficacy and guide continuous improvement: Nearly half of respondents do not.

Additional areas in which a significant number of food businesses are lacking in their food safety training or are not making use of the most modern tools, as identified by Campden BRI, include: cross-functional training, the use of examples from the company’s actual facilities to ensure training reflects the real-world work environment, professional/career development programs for employees on the production line, leadership training for supervisors, and the integration of advanced training technologies like artificial intelligence (AI).