Sunday 25 August 2019

Staff shortages a threat to food safety standards


FSAI chief executive Pamela Byrne
FSAI chief executive Pamela Byrne

Shawn Pogatchnik

Staff shortages are a bigger threat to food safety than Brexit, according to a survey published this week.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) survey of 200 industry executives - including manufacturers, restaurateurs and chefs - finds that 69pc of those polled consider the recruitment and retention of staff a serious concern.

While Brexit may pose a major challenge to enforcing food safety standards, business leaders see the shortage of skilled workers as a bigger and more pressing issue.

That said, some 67pc of those surveyed did identify Britain's departure from the EU as a serious concern - with fears there mainly to do with potential higher costs.

FSAI chief executive Pamela Byrne said the industry is right to be worried about retaining workers trained in food handling.

"There's a requirement in legislation that all staff working in food premises are trained, and that you have documentation to prove they're trained," she told the Irish Independent.

But this was proving increasingly difficult, Ms Byrne added.

"When we go in to inspect the business, we look at the training records," she said.

"If you've got unskilled workers on site or are experiencing a high turnover of workers, then your business must have a constant focus on training those new people - and that poses challenges for compliance with food safety.

"It becomes quite difficult for a business to maintain that commitment to food safety if they're constantly facing a high turnover of staff or they're not getting skilled staff in."

Irish Independent

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