Following a spate of food safety incidents in aged care facilities, managers need to be on the ball, according to the Australian Institute of Food Safety.
With aged care patients listed as a vulnerable group under Food Standard 3.3.1, it’s essential that staff have adequate training to handle the challenges of working with food.
AIFS managing director Stuart Hilditch said that in recent months, he had talked to a number of aged care facility managers and found that “many don’t have a single food safety supervisor on staff, let alone the two or three that they really need. And there is a lack of understanding about who needs training. It’s not just the kitchen staff but anyone who serves stores or unpacks food in the facility”.
According to Food Standards Australia New Zealand, the definition of a food handler is “anyone who works in a food business and who either handles food or surfaces that are likely to be in contact with food such as cutlery, plates and bowls.
“A food handler may do many different things for a food business. Examples include making, cooking, preparing, serving, packing, displaying and storing food.
“Food handlers can also be involved in manufacturing, producing, collecting, extracting, processing, transporting, delivering, thawing or preserving food.”
This means even staff who serve food delivered from an outside agency require food safety training, as do kitchen hands that perform tasks such as washing up.
Problems can be compounded by managers choosing the wrong course for their industry. “There are essentially three industry sectors that require food safety supervisor training,” Hilditch explained.
“These are retail and hospitality, food processing, and health and community services. Aged care facility managers must always ensure that the training provider is authorised to provide the units of competency for the health and community sector.”
While the content of food safety courses may be similar in the three industries, it is not necessarily the same. Staff wishing to use their food safety training to contribute to a higher qualification – such as a Certificate III in Aged Care – need to ensure that they complete food safety supervisor training for the correct industry, as the course is targeted to meet the needs of a specific role.
CFT can train you staff in-house, online or by correspondence go to http://www.cft.com.au for details
With the aged care industry being examined closely by the authorities, now is a good time to ensure that staff are well-versed in food safety, according to Hilditch. “Often, when a food safety incident occurs, there is a big rush for training after the event, but by then it’s often too late.
“With a little forethought and planning, the incident may have been prevented in the first place, saving the business money and safeguarding the health of their customers.”