A Study of Food Safety Training and Associated Barriers to Effective Training Outcomes

Diane Fox, Technological University Dublin

Successfully submitted for the award of Master of Science in Food Safety Management to the Technological University Dublin 2020.


The safety of food is fundamental to public health, businesses and wider society and effective food safety training is an essential element to ensure safe food reaches our consumers. This is true for all food business operators in all sectors of the food industry including food service, retail and manufacturing facilities. Not complying with food safety obligations can have a serious impact on human health and serious consequences for the food business operator. In 2015 the World Health Organisation reported that almost 1 in 10 people fall ill every year from eating contaminated food and 420,000 die as a result. Children under 5 years of age are particularly at risk, with 125,000 children dying from foodborne diseases every year. Food safety is a shared responsibility and governments, the food industry and individuals need to do more to make food safe and prevent foodborne diseases. The aim of this study is to identify the barriers and problems that may affect the outcomes of food safety training, by examining the methods of training used within the food industry and to identify what food businesses are currently pursuing in order to develop and improve their food safety training. This survey was conducted from October to December 2018 and 171 food businesses participated. Discussions with trainers were conducted in December 2018 and international responses were gathered in October 2018. The study identified that 95% of food businesses do provide food safety training for employees whereas 5% are non-compliant. A majority of food businesses (68%) chose in-house training as their main method of training and online/eLearning was the least preferred at 17%. Findings from this study showed that 85% of food businesses employ non-nationals, with Polish (58%) being the most common language spoken. Sixty percent of respondents believe that language may be a barrier to food safety standards, due to a general lack of understanding when training is conducted in English. Meanwhile, language barriers are used by some employees as an excuse to avoid implementing training appropriately. Incorporating a selection of languages may help to overcome that barrier. Overall, the study identified the main barriers to food safety training as; no interest amongst employees (92%), lack of understanding (89%) and lack of management support (85%). Therefore, it is recommended that a strong food safety culture is built into the food businesses. Blended learning, group work and experience sharing needs to be brought into training programmes, in order to get employee engagement and make training more interesting.