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HACCP tops demand in EU training program

HACCP was the most popular training program in 2019 as part of an initiative for officials involved in verifying compliance with European rules.

A total of 13 five day training sessions were organized with 313 participants in five countries around Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP).

The European Commission’s Better Training for Safer Food Initiative (BTSF) is overseen by the Consumers, Health, Agriculture, and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA). BTSF provides a strategy for training in food and feed law, animal health and welfare rules, and plant health.

Training is designed for staff of authorities in EU countries involved in official controls, but agencies in non-EU countries, particularly developing nations, also need to be up to date on EU import requirements. More than 40 training programs are offered to attract 6,000 participants annually.

Training is organized by external contractors but does not replace initial work for inspectors done by member states. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all BTSF sessions are suspended until the end of this year.

HACCP course
Courses are designed so controls are carried out objectively, adequately, and uniformly. This protects businesses and consumers by helping to maintain fair trade and a level playing field.

The HACCP system focuses on identifying and preventing hazards from contaminating food. The training objective is to be able to conduct audits to verify food business implementation of HACCP-based systems. Courses provide an overview of general hygiene requirements, evaluation of the HACCP plan, preparation of audit activities, performing and reporting on the audit, collection of audit evidence, and follow-up.

Other courses include controls on contaminants in feed and food, food fraud and e-commerce of food, food hygiene, microbiological criteria and monitoring of zoonoses, official control regulation, outbreak preparedness, and management, and food testing.

The BTSF Academy is a cloud-based learning management system that offers an online option for training organized under the program. The e-learning BTSF campus trains around 8,000 people a year and includes 10 modules covering the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) field, available in five EU languages.

The BTSF initiative also organizes training sessions targeting non-EU countries. In 2019, three new training programs were added. They covered antimicrobial resistance (AMR), risk analysis, and information management systems for official controls used at the EU level. Six AMR sessions were organized with 170 participants in Argentina, Ethiopia, Jordan, Montenegro, South Africa, and Ukraine.

E-learning figures
In 2019 there were 4,908 participants in BTSF e-learning activities from 53 different countries, 27 EU and 26 non-EU nations. The most popular course was HACCP, which had 2,567 enrolments, followed by food contact materials; Rapid Alert System for Feed and Food (RASFF); food hygiene and control on fishery products and live bivalve mollusks (FISH) and animal welfare at slaughter and killing for disease control.

Spain had the highest participation among the EU countries, with 1,503 enrolments, mostly in the EU plant quarantine regime for imports; prevention, control, and eradication of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies and animal health prevention and controls for aquaculture animals e-learning courses.

Portugal was second with 805 enrolments, mostly in HACCP, food contact materials, and RASFF. Germany’s most popular e-learning courses are HACCP, RASFF, and animal welfare, which were also the main ones in the United Kingdom. In France, participants seemed most interested in the HACCP, FISH, and food contact material courses.

For non-EU countries, those with the highest participation were Peru, the Philippines, Egypt, and Chile. HACCP was the most popular course followed by RASFF, FISH, and controls for aquaculture animals.

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