• Anna Drumm

Staff Training - Keeping the Verifier Happy

It’s that time of the year again. The verifier is visiting with their clipboard and judgement and everyone is furiously cleaning and prepping. We can be forgiven for overlooking one of the most important parts of our Food Control Plan – staff training.

All New Zealand food businesses whether in food service and retail or manufacturing and processing, are required to implement a robust employee training programme, however, one of the most common corrective actions we see on a verifiers report is in relation to exactly this.

Here are our three top tips for setting up an effective employee training program for when audit time comes.

1. Include a sign off sheet

Your verifier will expect to see evidence that ALL of your staff have completed training. This is done using a staff training sign off sheet and is filed with the rest of your record keeping.

The vast majority of businesses will all need the following areas at the very least covered:

· hand hygiene;

· personal hygiene;

· health and sickness;

· potentially hazardous food;

· cleaning and sanitising;

· managing food allergens;

· What to do when something goes wrong

However, what is often forgotten is adding in anything that is a specialised area for your business. Depending on what your business produces you may need to add things such as;

· Product and environmental testing procedures and the microbiological limits

· Brining and pickling or hot smoking

· Validating water activity

· Cooking high risk foods or cooking techniques such as sous vide

Here is a sample of one we use for our clients:

2. Nominate who is responsible for training everyone on the team.

When your verifier visits they will ask you the following two questions:

a) Who is the trainer? And;

b) What makes them qualified to complete the training?

When you are deciding who should be the trainer think about what specific skills and knowledge they will need first. They may have an NZQA accredited Certificate in Food Safety and Hygiene or be in the process of gaining it.

Remember; you don’t have to do this in-house! Outsource all or part of your staff training programme to the professionals.

3. Train your staff regularly

Verifiers tend to frown upon seeing staff training records dated from 3 years ago!

Training your staff once is simply not enough. Your businesses specialised processes and policies should be re-trained yearly and any staff with Food Safety Certificates will need to renew them every 2-3 years.

By having a robust staff training programme in place you not only ensure your staff are fully equipped to keep your business running but you will also keep that verifier happy and reduce those pesky corrective actions.

If you would like to discuss anything raised in this article I would be happy to discuss it! Flick me an email on or click here to find out more information about our NZQA accredited Food Safety and Hygiene Certificate that can be completed from anywhere.

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