How will Standard 3.2.2A change Food Handler training requirements?

September 22, 2023 Read Time icon 2 min read

To ensure the utmost safety and hygiene in the food industry, FSANZ has introduced Standard 3.2.2A, which brings significant changes to Food Handler training. This standard mandates that all individuals engaged in food handling within businesses must possess the essential food safety skills and knowledge to handle potentially hazardous foods to ensure their safety for consumption. Let's delve into these changes, their implications for the industry, and some practical examples.

The Mandatory Shift: Food Handler Training

Standard 3.2.2A, now in effect across Australia, marks a significant shift by enforcing mandatory skills and knowledge for Food Handlers. This requirement aims to cultivate a well-equipped workforce with a deep commitment to handling food with the highest regard for safety. The standard specifies that Food Handlers must complete a training program including several vital topics considered indispensable to the safety and quality of the food supply chain.

Required Elements of Food Handler Training

According to Standard 3.2.2A, an adequate Food Handler training program should encompass several fundamental subjects, including:

1. Safe Handling of Food
Mastering the correct techniques for handling food is pivotal in preventing contamination and maintaining food safety. Approved training should ensure Food Handlers understand temperature control measures for potentially hazardous foods and are acutely aware of the Temperature Danger Zone.

2. Food Contamination
Guarding against cross-contamination and keeping safe barriers between raw and cooked foods are pivotal for averting foodborne illnesses. Appropriate Food Handler training should rigorously cover professional food storage practices, effective allergen management, and the imperative of using separate utensils and cutting boards.

3. Cleaning and Sanitising of Food Premises and Equipment
Proper cleaning and sanitisation of food preparation areas and equipment are crucial to minimise the proliferation of harmful microorganisms. To be approved according to Standard 3.2.2A, Food Handler training should provide comprehensive guidance on correct cleaning and sanitisation procedures, the proper use of food-safe chemicals, and when to use methods such as heat-based sanitisation.

4. Personal Hygiene
A cornerstone of food safety, personal hygiene practices are indispensable in mitigating the spread of pathogens. Proper Food handler training emphasises employee obligations when unwell, the importance of meticulous handwashing, and the protocols to ensure impeccable grooming, uniforms, and hygiene standards.

Traditional Food Handler training often didn’t cover all of the topics listed, especially around allergen management, so even previously trained Food Handlers may require some re-training. Food Handler training provided by the Australian Institute of Food Safety meets all requirements of both nationally recognised Food Handler training as well as Standard 3.2.2A.

How to Manage Untrained Food Handlers

Let's consider an example to illustrate these training changes better.

  • A recently appointed Food Handler joins a sandwich bar.
  • The Food Safety Supervisor determines the new employee must learn to handle ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous foods.
  • This employee is presented with two options:
    • Complete a recognised food safety training course
    • Undertake alternative tasks that do not involve high-risk food handling, such as general cleaning, handling low-risk foods, managing orders, or providing table service.
  • Once the employee becomes certified and can prove they have the necessary food safety knowledge and skills, they can seamlessly transition to high-risk food handling tasks.

Conclusion: A Safer Food Future

The mandatory Food Handler training requirement in Australia, as outlined in Standard 3.2.2A, is a step forward in advancing food safety and hygiene standards throughout the industry. Standard 3.2.2A aims to mitigate the risk of foodborne illnesses stemming from inadequate practices by making comprehensive training mandatory to enhance the safety of essential aspects of food handling. 

As the industry assimilates these changes, the outcome should be vastly improved safety and quality in the food supply chain, resulting in safer and healthier food consumption for all. 


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