9 Ways E-learning is a Better Option for Food Safety Training

January 26, 2016 | 2114 Views

9 Ways E-learning is a Better Option for Food Safety Training

John Poulos

Vice President, Customer Success | Crunchtime

Food safety is a hot topic in the news lately, and many restaurants are looking for ways to quickly shore up their food safety training programs.  E-learning is an ideal solution for managing food safety training programs, and it has many advantages over both traditional classroom training and on-the-job training.  Let’s take a look at some of the top ways that e-learning is more effective for food safety training. 

1.       Accessible

An e-learning course is always available and ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.  If you need to do some emergency refresher training, you can quickly assign a food safety course to everyone in a store with a click of a button.  There’s no need to schedule a trainer, assemble materials, etc.  It’s ready when you are.  And with mobile-friendly courses available for deployment on mobile devices, as well as courses available in additional languages like Spanish, food safety training is more accessible than ever before.

2.       Fast

Food safety training does not need to be long and drawn out to be effective.  When delivered via e-learning, it’s usually completed much more quickly than classroom or on-the-job training.  In fact, when Culver’s implemented online food safety training for their hourly employees, they saw a 75% reduction in time required to train on this critical skill.  They previously had a two-hour classroom-based course, and when they implemented DiscoverLink’s 30-minute food safety course, it saved labor hours for both trainers and learners, as well as the cost of materials.

3.       Higher Retention

Because it’s interactive, e-learning has been proven time and time again to improve retention rates for topics like food safety.  But higher retention is only achieved if it’s done right.  Good e-learning is not a passive activity – it’s engaging and requires active participation.  It is not enough to just tell the learner the information or show them how to do it.  Rather, e-learning must engage the learner with fun activities and enable virtual practice so the learner is able to apply the skills they have learned.  It also provides an opportunity for the learner to make mistakes without detriment to the guest.

4.       Consistent

Most in-store trainers are not professional trainers by trade – they’re usually your best cooks, wait staff or assistant managers.  Mastering training techniques is not their top priority, and as a result they often deliver training very inconsistently – sometimes forgetting key pieces of content or doing things out of order.  You may notice in your organization, for example, that employees trained by your best trainer get up to speed faster than those trained by a trainer who is not as skilled.  E-learning, on the other hand, is consistent.  All of the essential content is covered every single time, in the right order.  And that’s critically important when it comes to a topic like food safety.

 5.       Validated

Integrated testing is an incredibly powerful way to validate that knowledge transfer has been achieved.  And that’s a very simple thing to do in an e-learning environment.  You can quiz the learner during a course to check knowledge along the way, or require a final exam at the end of the course.  With automated remediation for incorrect responses, you have additional opportunities to reinforce the training and further ingrain the knowledge.  And you can require a passing grade at any level you define – even 100% if you so choose.   In some learning management systems (LMSs) like DiscoverLink Talent, you can also randomize exam questions to guard against answer sharing, and manage exam questions in a question bank to make administration and future exam building easier.

6.       Trackable

One of the best advantages of e-learning over traditional training is that it is tracked automatically.  This means that you instantly know who has been trained and when they’re due for a refresh.  And, most importantly, you can see who has not yet completed their training so you can immediately follow up and ensure the training gets done, in order to minimize risk to your guests and to your business.  With DiscoverLink Talent, you can also track certifications, requiring input of a certification number and/or manager sign-off upon completion of training.  This is a great way to integrate and track data about nationally accredited food safety certifications, such as the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe program.

 7.       Automated Reporting

If, despite your best efforts, you do find yourself faced with a food safety crisis, the ability to produce reports detailing the status of food safety training across your organization will be critical. With e-learning, integrated reports can show at a glance who has completed their food safety training and who is past due.  With some LMSs, you can instantly generate reports focused on a single employee’s history, a specific store, all stores belonging to a district or multi-unit franchisee, or the entire hierarchy of an international chain.  It’s the fastest way to prove compliance with local regulations and show your food safety training is fully up-to-date.

8.       Recurring Training

Food safety training is never a “one-and-done” proposition.   In many states it is required by law to be repeated every few years.  As a best practice, some of our clients exceed state-mandated requirements and have their employees repeat food safety training annually as a way to better protect their guests.  With e-learning, scheduling recurring training can be automated, re-assigning courses in a timeframe you specify.  And with LMS features like conditional learning programs, you can apply advanced rules to automatically assign learning programs based on multiple variables, including things like the employee’s state and skill position.

9.       Cost effective

E-learning is a very economical way to deploy training because it takes less time and you can eliminate the cost of the instructor and materials.  Some people worry about the cost of developing their own e-learning courses.  But luckily, when it comes to food safety, there are dozens of quality programs available off-the-shelf.  With a licensed course you can often receive updates automatically as the food safety code evolves, and in some cases, you can assign the course to anyone in your store as many times as you want during the license period.  Depending on your vendor, an off-the-shelf food safety course can be a very inexpensive solution to shore up your food safety training program.


With food safety as a top-of-mind issue in the restaurant business right now, e-learning is a great way to provide the best possible protection for your guests and your reputation.   

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