food handler compliance

How to improve food handler compliance

The level of food handler compliance can mean the difference between success or failure. From time to time I have to deal with staff who have not followed the correct business procedures.  This can be a frustrating position to be in, but a position that I am sure some of you have experienced.  In this article find out some basic strategies to improve food handler compliance in your food business.

Food handler compliance behavior

Getting people to change their behavior is tough – especially when they have been doing things a certain way for a long time and, from their point of view, it’s working for them.  In a nutshell, there are two choices you can make:

  • You can make it more appealing to change, or
  • You can make it less appealing to continue to behave in the way that they have been behaving.

Actions to improve compliance

When deciding on your action, keep in mind, that a simple non-conformance with say a labeling procedure, can potentially harm or injure your customer or cost the business tens of thousands of dollars in product recall and/or withdrawal action.

The action that you therefore take, to address the level of food handler compliance, could be based on the overall risk to the customer, your organisation or the food handler themselves. Read on understand some basic actions that you can take to improve food handler compliance.

Explain business procedures

Food handler compliance starts with education. Explain what the procedure is, why it needs to be completed, and what the consequences are if the procedure is not followed. Don’t be afraid to use emotive language when explaining the potential consequences.

Verify implementation

Check that the process or procedure is being implemented correctly. This may mean that every day and during every production shift you as the QA manager, walks the production line and observes the workers implementation of the procedure.  When you consistently observe no issues, you can cut back to less frequent checks.

Human engineer the process

Build in a stupidity factor into the procedure.  The more you can remove the need for staff to make a choice, the better.  For example, rather than having five (5) different labels available on the line at once, just have the one for the product that is being packed. Limiting choice can greatly increase the level of food handler compliance.

Performance Management

Have a strong performance management system in place.  You will most likely need to talk to your HR (human resources) department about this.  If you are consistently finding that the level of food handler compliance is poor for certain individuals, it may be time for them to move on or have them relocated to a less risky section of the business.

Have your say!

I would love to hear from you regarding this issue. Do you have trouble with some of your staff not following business procedures? Let me know how you deal with poor food handler compliance by leaving a comment below.


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