May 2003 Edition
Food Safety - It's the Right Thing to Do

by Monira Kayhan

Operations and Development Manager, TrainCan Inc.

Running a foodservice operation requires attention in many areas of the business but overwhelmingly the issue of food safety has become a top concern.

A recent Ipsos-Reid/CTV/Globe and Mail poll (October 2001) concluded three-quarters (74%) of Canadians are concerned about food safety. Although the majority feels that food safety is primarily an issue during the processing stage of the food supply, there are still many who worry about food served in restaurants and other food service outlets.

Health Canada says that there are more than 10,000 reported cases of foodborne illness each year and estimates that the actual number is closer to 2,000,000. This costs Canadian health services, industry and society an estimated $1 billion a year. It would be surprising if the risks went completely unnoticed. It should be mentioned that many of the cases occur from food prepared at home; nevertheless, an operator who takes on a role to serve food must make sure that they take all precautions necessary to ensure that the food they serve is safe to eat.

Safe food handling does not require expensive high-tech equipment; it requires learning the principles — which include such simple elements as proper hand-washing techniques — and putting them to practice. It is crucial that all food handlers in restaurants understand the causes of foodborne illnesses and know how to rectify them.

The Food Retail and Food Services Regulations and Code (FRFSRC) describes the minimum learning outcomes for both operators and food handlers and the importance of training. Depending on where you live, food handlers may be required by law to be trained in proper food handling. Even though the FRFSRC emphasizes the importance of training and highly recommends provinces to pursue such requirements, not all provinces have legislated mandatory food handler training.

The following chart describes where requirements for food handlers exist, what the requirement is and what the jurisdiction accepts as a training standard.

The best way for operators to protect their customers, employees and business is to educate their staff to handle food properly by implementing the necessary training.

It might seem like a time-consuming and costly task to take on, but remember — for every dollar spent on food safety you can expect to save $10 in reduced waste cost and save up to $100 on legal liability.

Remember food safety… it’s the right thing to do! ยจ

Current Food-Safety Training Legislation by Province

PROVINCE

FOOD-SAFETY

TRAINING LEGISLATION

WHO CAN

TRAIN? (All public health inspectors qualify as trainers)

LEVEL OF

TRAINING

CERTIFICATION

     

Alberta

Requirement.

Trainers accredited by approved course and recognized by the province.

Where there are five or more employees at least one must be trained in food safety. Proposed new regulation will state one staff member who holds valid food-safety training qualifications must be available at all times.

Certification exam by approved course or provincial exam.

British Columbia

Requirement.

Trainers accredited by approved programs.

The operator and one employee in his/her absence must be trained in a food-safety course approved by the Ministry of Health.

Certification exam by approved course.

Manitoba

Recommendation for the province. Winnipeg is the only city in the province that has its own bylaw that requires food-handler training. The long-term plan is to make it mandatory across the province.

Trainers accredited by approved courses.

Winnipeg requires the person in charge and one out of every five employees on duty at one time.

No level specified for province.

Winnipeg: City-certification exam, but participants of approved courses can challenge (take) city exam.

Provincially certification must be posted.

New Brunswick

Recommendation (regulation under review, will most likely become a requirement).

Trainers accredited by approved courses.

Not currently specified, but will likely become one person in management level and another staff member in their absence.

No mandatory certification at present.

Certification exam by approved courses is accepted.

Newfoundland

Recommendation

Trainers accredited by approved courses.

No requirement.

No exam required.

Nova Scotia

Recommendation (some municipal bylaws require it). Regulation is under review, will most likely become a requirement.

Trainers accredited by approved courses.

Varies according to municipal bylaws.

Province offers certification exam but approved course exam is acceptable.

Nunavut*

Recommendation (currently using N.W.T. regulations).

Trainers working in establishment.

No requirement.

No exam required.

North West

Territories*

Recommendation (will become requirement very soon)

Trainers accredited by approved courses.

One person per shift during operation must be certified.

Certification exam by approved courses are accepted.

Ontario

Recommendation. Regulation is under review and the new regulation will most likely require training. The City of Brantford has implemented a bylaw for mandatory food-handler training.

Trainers accredited by approved courses.

Brantford requires all foodservice managers to have a food-handler training certificate recognized by the city. If the bylaw is passed, the City of Toronto will require the operator of high and medium-risk food premises and at least one food handler in a supervisory position be certified per shift.

Certification exam by approved courses are accepted.

Prince Edward Island

Recommendation.

Trainers accredited by approved courses.

No level specified.

No requirement for exam or certification.

Quebec

Recommendation (regulation is under review, pushing for requirement).

Trainers accredited by approved courses. Once a requirement is in place all trainers must be recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and Food of Quebec by completing the training they offer.

No level specified.

Exam by accredited trainer. Provincial certification will be given by recognized trainer.

Saskatchewan

Requirement.

Nutritionists, dietitians or a person who has a food science background and has completed one of the approved courses.

Unless exempted by the Medical Health Officer, every holder of a licence shall ensure that a person who has successfully completed a course approved by the Minister is working in the establishment at all times.

Certification exam by approved course.

Yukon

Recommendation.

High school and college professors, trainers accredited by approved courses.

No level specified.

No requirement for exam or certification.

*Note: Not all provinces and territories were able to supply information

All research compiled by TRAINCAN, Inc. For more information contact Monira Kayhan, Territory and Devlopment Manager at (613) 744-4035.