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.


By | 2017-06-06T11:56:46+00:00 June 6th, 2017|15 Comments


  1. Thien Huong June 21, 2017 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    Thanks, Amanda, I realized that verify implementation are important part for QA management. Worker will forget the procedure after they worked fluently and they break the procedure. What will you do?

    • HACCP Mentor June 29, 2017 at 1:45 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your comment Thien. Refresher training becomes an important part of your overall food safety management program.

  2. Rose June 18, 2017 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    Thanks, Amanda, for sharing again practical inputs in ensuring full compliance of food handlers.


    • HACCP Mentor June 19, 2017 at 8:52 am - Reply

      My pleasure Rose 🙂

  3. kayode Balogun June 15, 2017 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    Many thanks for the subject of discussion. Obviously its a major bottleneck ensuring Food handlers comply with set standards.

    Over the years there is one method in-addition to those you mentioned that have worked personally for me like magic. After training on a particular aspect, I usually on a serious note make participants especially PIC- people in charge or process owners to sign an “Attestation form” that they have taken this training which they fully understand what is expected of them in reality and that they stand to be penalized if violated which include salary deductions depending on the gravity of non-conformance. Somehow the consciousness of this constantly ring alertness to them. It works like magic!!


    Kayode KFC Nigeria.

    • HACCP Mentor June 17, 2017 at 12:25 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing your tip Kayode. Acknowledging personal responsibility is a must.

    • Zaharayun June 21, 2017 at 1:36 pm - Reply

      A good suggestion, I had in my mind too for my staff but still hesitate to do it due to felling sympathy as their salary not so much. But if I didn’t do it, I’m the once that will be sympathy and stressful.

  4. Ramesh Babu.V June 15, 2017 at 1:26 am - Reply

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Greetings of the Day!!!

    The given tips for food handler which are very essential to dive the process without any hesitation.


    Ramesh Babu.V

    • HACCP Mentor June 17, 2017 at 12:25 pm - Reply

      Thanks Ramesh

  5. ige oladimeji amos June 11, 2017 at 12:25 am - Reply

    Comment…Hi I must say I have really enjoy all your articles over the years. Thank you very much. My question is what are the hygiene
    standard staffs cooking patients food should work with a Dietitian in a federal hospital in Nigeria west Africa.

    • HACCP Mentor June 17, 2017 at 12:37 pm - Reply

      Thanks Ige for your kind words. For specific standards in your country of manufacture I suggest you refer to your own governments food safety legal requirements. I would also suggest asking the relevant authority at the hospital you work at.

  6. abigale June 7, 2017 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    What about if the staff is come and go in a company?

    • HACCP Mentor June 17, 2017 at 12:39 pm - Reply

      Hi Abigale, regardless of your staff turnover, all staff should be trained appropriately prior to starting work with your organisation.

  7. Nizar Ramji June 7, 2017 at 12:30 am - Reply

    Wearing hairnet correctly is a big challenge when dealing with young employees; changing gloves after handling cash.

    • HACCP Mentor June 17, 2017 at 12:40 pm - Reply

      Thanks Nizar for your comment. Effective training and checking of staff will reduce this issue.

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