A recently published report by the Western Australia Auditor General highlighted a worrying lack of inspection and enforcement with respect to food hygiene and safety standards. Almost inevitably, inspections by food standards agencies dropped off as a result of the recent Covid-19 restrictions. Although the report didn’t identify the agencies concerned, and is focussing on Western Australia, it’s likely that this situation is being replicated across every state in the country. Here we take a look at what these findings may mean for businesses in the food and beverage and hospitality sectors. In addition, we consider how best to make sure that your business doesn’t “fall off the radar” when it comes to maintaining high-grade food hygiene standards.

Covid-19 means inspection agencies may be behind with visits

An inspection from a food standards agency isn’t just a check that you’re operating safely, it’s also an opportunity to get advice and support from experts in food hygiene and the standards needed to operate a food-handling business safely. Inspectors are frequently able to give expert advice and guidance on how your business can deal with specific hygiene issues. Highly experienced, many businesses view them as a source of helpful support and information. As a result of the pandemic, businesses who are due an inspection may not have received one, meaning important food hygiene issues may remain unaddressed.

Are your re-opening hygiene procedures up to standard?

The pandemic has affected many aspects of business operation: for many food-handling enterprises, re-opening once restrictions have been lifted has resulted in a new set of challenges. Businesses which serve the public are now required to ensure adequate measures are in place to limit the spread of the virus. This extends not only to seating areas and restrooms but also to how food is prepared and presented. The combined effect of reduced inspections and new hygiene requirements is that some businesses may not have all the information needed to ensure their company is 100% compliant with current regulations.

How could food handling certification help?

For business owners, even those who already hold the Food Safety Supervisor qualification (an essential requirement to operate a food-handling business in Victoria, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory an NSW), a refresher course can be a great idea. Taking the time to update your certificate ensures you have all the information needed to run your restaurant, hotel kitchen or takeaway facility correctly.

Obtaining a Food Safety Supervisor qualification now could have the following benefits:

  • Particularly if it’s been a while since you took your qualification, a refresher course ensures you have all the necessary knowledge at your finger-tips.
  • The up-to-date information provided can offer a timely prompt to revisit your food handling systems and processes. If you’ve recently reopened, or are changing what your business offers from any temporary arrangements which were in place as a result of the pandemic restrictions, this is the perfect time to review how you’re operating to ensure your hygiene standards are impeccable.
  • One of the impacts of recent events is that many organisations are experiencing changes in staffing, as well as welcoming back established members of staff who may have been laid off or furloughed in recent months. It’s important that all team members are completely clear about the hygiene standards that you expect. By implementing the ways of working recommended in the Food Safety Supervisor course material, your workforce will be on the right track immediately.
  • Minimises the chances of problems being picked up by a later inspection. Although inspectors are currently behind with their inspection schedules, this won’t always be the case! A lack of timely inspection is no cause for complacency: ensuring the right standards are in place now not only safeguards your staff and customers, but it also reduces the risk of prosecution or being mandated to cease trading should a future inspection identify shortcomings.

Why not update your team’s skills?

A change in staff, or team members coming back to work after a period of inactivity, could mean that not every employee is aware of what’s needed for good food hygiene. Now is the perfect opportunity to give your employees training in the form of a Food Handling certificate. Not only will it boost their skills, but it will also ensure everybody knows what’s needed to optimise food safety.

We offer Food Safety Supervisor and Food Handling certificates that are easily accessible and meet the needs of a diverse workforce. Get in touch to find out more about the advantages enhanced food handling knowledge can bring.