Over the past two decades, the number of Australians aged 85 and over has increased by 110%, bringing an increased reliance on aged care facilities to provide assistance, including the provision of meals, snacks and beverages.
Government statistics suggest that approximately 407,000 people currently use residential aged care, home care or transition care in Australia. When you take into account the vulnerability of elderly residents, it’s clear to see the importance of food safety within the aged care system. Past incidents have shown that a food-borne illness outbreak at an aged care facility can have tragic consequences.
It’s therefore imperative that aged care workers responsible for preparing, handling and serving food are fully trained in accordance with the food safety regulations imposed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).
FSANZ Standard 3.2.2A is particularly significant due to the fact it mandates Food Safety Supervisor training and certification. In this blog we’ll discuss how this impacts aged care workers, emphasising the pivotal importance of professional food safety training in ensuring legal compliance and consumer wellbeing.
What Does Standard 3.2.2A Mean For Aged Care Facilities?
Aged care facilities are subject to the same aspects of Standard 3.2.2A as hospitals, restaurants, cafes, bars and any other establishments that prepare and serve food to be consumed in-house.
Due to their classification as Category 1 establishments, aged care facilities must appoint at least one designated Food Safety Supervisor to oversee the implementation of food safety procedures throughout the workplace.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Food Safety Supervisor in Aged Care?
Food Safety Supervisors employed by an aged care facility are tasked with ensuring that food handling staff adhere to the necessary safety protocols on a consistent basis.
Food Safety Supervisor responsibilities include:
- Developing and implementing a Food Safety Plan based on HACCP principles.
- Taking corrective actions when food safety issues arise.
- Maintaining accurate records relating to food safety procedures.
- Training and supervising Food Handlers.
- Liaising with Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) where required.
What Is the Difference Between a Food Safety Supervisor and a Food Handler?
Although there are many ways in which the two roles overlap, there are also a few key differences that set them apart from each other.
The Food Safety Supervisor oversees the complete Food Safety Program, while Food Handlers are typically more involved with day-to-day food preparation and service activities. Food Handlers are expected to follow the instructions of the Food Safety Supervisor regarding cleaning and sanitising, personal hygiene, and food preparation practices.
What Food Safety Supervisor Course Should an Aged Care Worker Do?
If chosen as the designated Food Safety Supervisor for their establishment, aged care workers must complete a Food Safety Supervisor course delivered by a Register Training Organisation (RTO).
Food Safety First offers a nationally recognised Food Safety Supervisor training program featuring a government-approved curriculum that covers key food safety topics, including:
- Food safety legislation
- Allergen management
- Cleaning and sanitising
- Food contamination
- Temperature control
- Food storage
- Hand washing
- Personal hygiene
- Food safety hazards
Does the Food Safety Supervisor Course Include a Written Exam?
There are no written tests to complete. Instead, students must participate in a number of assessment tasks activities to determine their knowledge and understanding of the course content.
Each of the 19 interactive lessons featured in the course are followed by a multiple choice quiz. Participants are not permitted to move onto the next lesson until they have scored 100 percent in the quiz.
The Food Safety Supervisor course includes a reading activity about potentially hazardous foods. This assignment comes in the form of a PDF document downloaded from the student portal. After reading the document, participants must answer questions related to its contents.
During the assessment process, students are required to complete two case study tasks. After reviewing each case study, participants must successfully answer a set of multiple-choice questions based on the information provided.
This activity is carried out in a workplace environment. Participants must demonstrate hands-on skills like hand washing while being monitored by a designated coworker (observer). The observer must fill out and submit a report confirming the successful completion of the required tasks.
The Food Safety Supervisor course for Health & Community features eight different food safety procedures as part of the Observer Report activity:
- Personal hygiene
- Reporting personal health issues
- Hand washing practices
- Cleaning and sanitising practices
- Pest reporting
- Food preparation
- Single-use items
- Safe food storage
What Units of Competency Does an Aged Care Worker Need?
To achieve Food Safety Supervisor certification, aged care workers must obtain the relevant units of competency as defined by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). The units of competency required can vary depending on the guidelines imposed by each state or territory.
Health & Community
The following units are recognised by health departments in Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia:
- HLTFSE001 (Follow basic food safety practices)
- HLTFSE005 (Apply and monitor food safety requirements)
- HLTFSE007 (Oversee the day-to-day implementation of food safety in the workplace)
New South Wales and the Northern Territory don’t currently accept the units of competency for Health & Community. Consequently, establishments located in these regions must instead complete the units of competency for Hospitality:
- SITXFSA005 (Use hygienic practices for food safety)
- SITXFSA006 (Participate in safe food handling practices)
How Long Does an Aged Care Food Safety Supervisor Certificate Last?
After finishing the Food Safety Supervisor course for Health & Community, you’ll receive a Statement of Attainment that details the industry-specific units of competency you've achieved. This serves as proof of certification and is valid for five years.
Aged care workers must renew their Food Safety Supervisor certification prior to its expiration to comply with Standard 3.2.2A. This requires them to retake the Food Safety Supervisor course at least once every five years.
How Can Food Safety Supervisor Training Be Applied to Real-Life Situations in an Aged Care Facility?
The knowledge and expertise that aged care workers gain from Food Safety Supervisor training can be applied to numerous real-life situations. Below are four examples of how course content translates to the day-to-day operations of an aged care facility.
1. Cleaning and Sanitising
A Food Safety Supervisor's skill set should include cleaning and sanitising methods, techniques for the correct handling and storage of cleaning agents, and an ability to identify cleaning and maintenance issues.
Food safety legislation stipulates that areas where food is prepared, stored or served must be cleaned and sanitised to a satisfactory standard. The Food Safety Supervisor course reiterates that visual cleanliness does not always equate to safety, highlighting the need for proper cleaning and sanitising procedures.
The fundamental goal of cleaning and sanitising is to significantly reduce harmful pathogens, lowering the risk of contamination and food-borne illnesses that can lead to hospitalisation or even death. Besides safeguarding public health, systematic cleaning and sanitising can also enhance the reputation of an aged care facility.
2. Food Handler Hygiene
If aged care workers fail to achieve the required personal hygiene, the risk of food contamination and food-borne illnesses is likely to be far greater. The following steps should be taken in order to mitigate this risk:
- Thorough hand washing: Ensuring that all employees wash their hands properly before handling food to minimise the risk of contamination.
- Wearing suitable food handling attire: This could include gloves, hairnets, and aprons to prevent personal contaminants from getting into the food.
- Avoiding food handling tasks when sick: Employees who are ill should not handle food, as they could transmit their illness to others, especially to those with weakened immune systems
These personal hygiene measures not only create a safer handling environment, but they also demonstrate a commitment to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of elderly residents.
3. Food Storage
The Food Safety Supervisor is tasked with ensuring that Food Handlers adhere to the basic principles of safe food storage. By successfully implementing the following methods, aged care workers can maintain food quality and protect residents from food-borne illnesses:
- First In, First Out (FIFO) storage policy
- Temperature control
- Accurate labelling
- Segregation of raw and cooked foods
Ignoring these guidelines could lead to contamination, food-borne illness outbreaks, and food safety law violations.
4. HACCP Principles
The Food Safety Supervisor course includes information that will enable aged care workers to incorporate key principles of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system into various food safety procedures.
This standardised system provides a vital framework for identifying, assessing and managing potential food safety hazards in the workplace. The HACCP system encompasses the following activities:
- Developing monitoring procedures to ensure safe food handling.
- Identifying potential food safety hazards related to food storage and handling.
- Establishing Critical Control Points (CCPs) and critical limits to prevent food-borne illnesses.
- Setting up Corrective Actions to address deviations from critical limits.
- Creating verification procedures to confirm the effectiveness of the Food Safety Plan.
How Do Aged Care Facilities Benefit From Food Safety Supervisor Training?
The Food Safety Supervisor course provides various direct and indirect benefits, including:
Possessing an in-depth knowledge of food safety protocols will enable aged care workers to prevent contamination and avert potentially disastrous food-borne illness outbreaks among vulnerable residents.
Food Safety Supervisors acquire knowledge that can be passed on to other members of their team.
Food Safety Supervisor certification ensures that aged care facilities comply with FSANZ Standard 3.2.2A.
Don’t Delay, Register Today!
Remember, Food Safety Supervisor training plays a vital role enabling you to fulfil your moral and legal duty to safeguard the wellbeing of elderly residents. The Food Safety Supervisor course for aged care workers offers a quick and easy route to certification. Enrol today and obtain a nationally recognised Statement of Attainment in a matter of hours.
Need help enrolling? Contact us today and we’ll get you started.