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Global Food Training Survey reveals new emphasis on worker behavior

May 7, 2014
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More food manufacturing and processing companies are taking a closer look at behavioral coaching on plant floors even after completion of classroom training and examinations, according to “The Global Food Safety Training Survey 2014” conducted by Alchemy Systems, LP, Austin, Texas, and Campden BRI, Chipping Campden, UK.

Alchemy Systems is a global leader of innovative and interactive training technologies for food production workers. Campden BRI is a research, development and technical support organization for the global food and beverage industry. Also acting in partnership were BRC Global Standards, worldwide provider of safety and quality certification programs, the SQF (Safe Quality Foods) Institute, Arlington Va.-based provider of food safety certification programs, and SGS, Geneva, Switzerland, a testing and certification company.

The second annual survey, distributed to 25,000 companies worldwide, explored the wide spectrum of training issues by including questions about budgets, challenges, audit deficiencies, training activities and measurement of results. “The purpose is to enable companies of all sizes to measure and benchmark their training against similar-sized companies worldwide,” said Jeff Eastman, Alchemy chief executive officer. Bertrand Emond, head of membership and training at Campden BRI, said survey results offer a complete picture of food safety training activities and practices across the industry. “By conducting the survey each year we will be able to track developments and trends, and develop solutions to some of the challenges identified,” Emond said.

Eastman noted that one of those trends is the growing use of coaching on the plant floor to ensure employee food safety comprehension and application. “What we find most interesting about the responses is that more than 40 percent believe supervisory coaching and influencing behavior on the job are as integral to establishing a food safety culture as is training in the classroom,” Eastman said.

Responses to several other survey questions may explain the growth of this trend. Verification that employees comprehend what they’ve been taught was listed as a major training challenge, while nearly 80 percent identified the biggest challenge as scheduling training time. Another finding in the global survey: more than 20 percent of audit deficiencies reported by respondents were attributed to lack of worker comprehension of concepts previously taught during classroom learning. In addition, only 15 percent of the respondents pronounced themselves “very satisfied” with their current training efforts.

Alchemy has addressed these shortcomings with development of SISTEM COACH, a tablet-based, interactive mobile app that assists supervisors with coaching through corrective observations and instantaneously transmits its data into worker files for a permanent record. The app eliminates cumbersome paperwork and record keeping while assuring employee comprehension on an everyday basis and helps reduce the need for additional training time. “The idea is to promote the food safety culture that is everyone’s top priority,” Eastman said. “Our customers tell us that they find our mobile app to be a vital tool that helps workers to apply their food safety training on the plant floor every hour of the workday.”

“The execution of an effective employee training program is the foundation of a successful food safety and quality program,” said Kristie Grzywinski, senior technical manager at Safe Quality Food Institute. “SQFI is an enthusiastic supporter and partner in Alchemy’s benchmarking study, which not only provides our stakeholders with valuable insight that will aid them in their continuous improvement efforts, but ensures the facility has a sound basis for producing safe, quality food.”

The entire Global Food Safety Training Survey 2014 can be viewed on the Alchemy Systems website.

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