FAQs – Allergen Awareness

Why do I need Allergen Awareness training?

The law varies from State to State about mandatory versus voluntary knowledge of Allergen Awareness.

In certain states – Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Montgomery County, (and some other local jurisdictions), they require that ALL food establishments must have at least one certified manager, on duty, that has completed an allergen awareness training course.

In addition, within the State of Illinois, there has been a recent update of legislation.

Illinois Governor Rauner signed an amendment to House Bill, HB2510, making allergen training law in Illinois. The amendment states that all Food Managers must by Law, receive allergen training within 30 days of employment and this knowledge must be re-tested every 3 years. In addition, training programs must be accredited by ANSI.

Over the coming few years, it is anticipated that many more States will insist on specific Allergen Awareness training.

Since the government introduced the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011, it has become very clear that any business that cannot prove their staff have had relevant training, which includes Allergen Awareness training, are highly vulnerable to penalties should there be any problems arising.

The FDA Food Code 2013, also states that all food handlers must receive training that is appropriate to their roles to help them provide safe food and protect the consumer. Allergen Awareness falls with these guidelines.

 

 

Do I have to use an accredited Allergen Awareness training course?

In certain states – Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Montgomery County, (and other local jurisdictions), the answer is yes and in Illinois, it must be accredited by ANSI.

As for other states, this may come as a surprise, and a shock that we would actually state the following! – Your training does not have to be accredited!

A Local Health Officer (LHO) is more interested in ensuring that you have received relevant training, it matches current laws and more importantly you understand the causes of an allergenic reactions and the steps you can take to reduce the risks to a sufferer. An LHO’s role is primarily to ensure that you are preparing, cooking and/or serving food to the general public in a safe manner and it will not cause injury to a person.

The important point is that you receive training, understand it and implement it.

 

ANSI Accreditation – Do I need it?

Our Always Food Safe Allergen Awareness training program is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) – Conference for Food Protection (CFP)

This means that you can be assured that our company and courses have gone through a rigorous checking process to ensure they meet the standards required.

This is an intensive, 12-month process and the few training providers that are awarded ANSI accreditation, can justifiably be proud of gaining this prestigious recognition!

Also, in certain states – Illinois, the answer is yes and it must be accredited by ANSI.

 

Located in a Different State? That’s not a problem.

Taking an ANSI accredited course means you have met very high standards. The vast majority of Local and State Health Officials are aware of ANSI and by proving your knowledge, you will be demonstrating a strong understanding of food allergens and the dangers they pose.

Taking an ANSI accredited course will give your local or state health official more confidence of your knowledge. A Health Official is more interested in ensuring that you have received relevant training, it matches current laws and more importantly you understand the causes of an allergenic reactions and the steps you can take to reduce the risks to a sufferer.

Ultimately, your local or state health official is there to ensure that you provide safe food to the public. They are there to help you and by showing them that you have taken an ANSI accredited course and have passed the exam, you are demonstrating that learning has taken place and you are contributing to your “due diligence” defence.

The most important point is that you receive training, understand it and implement it.

 

Why should I choose accredited training?

For most businesses, using an external provider is the better route. It is usually less time consuming, less expensive and offers a higher degree of security.
Using Your Managers to cover your training needs is a perfectly acceptable option. However, as your business grows, can you be confident that the quality and level of training is consistent across all your sites?

What happens when the manager is too busy to monitor training? Some managers are great trainers, others do it when they have spare time. Quite often we hear of staff working in a business for several months before they receive training. Again, this is where the food safety chain breaks down.

All training providers are duty bound to provide training that is relevant, appropriate and meaningful to the industry. An ANSI accredited training provider means they have undertaken more rigorous checks and are externally audited to make sure that basically,

what they teach is correct. In fairness, most –  if not all training providers-  actually want people to learn and see their role as important in helping to promote safer food.
A certificate is a way of showing that you have taken a test and passed, to demonstrate your understanding.
They usually can offer documented evidence of a learner, date exam passed, percentage mark etc. (Check to make sure your provider can do this).
If you organise internal un-accredited training, you will need to spend time checking through current legislation. It can be better to leave this to a training provider.
As additional learning updates are required, we email all our existing and previous learners if anything changes or we feel the need to update certain methods or practices. (Again, check to make sure your provider can do this).

 

Still unsure?

In summary, most people in the industry opt for a training that includes an accredited certificate. It is the benchmark that people accept and guarantees that you have received the most up to date training.
 

Is Servsafe the only provider?

Absolutely Not!
Servsafe, similar to ourselves is one of the training providers that have achieved ANSI Accreditation status.  There are several other training providers who have also attained ANSI accreditation.

This means that you can be assured that all ANSI accredited companies have gone through a rigorous checking process to ensure they meet the standards required.

This is an intensive, 12-month process and the few training providers that are awarded ANSI accreditation, can justifiably be proud of gaining this prestigious recognition!

All these organisations, (training providers), meet the required standards for accrediting courses. The course content is basically the same, although chapter headings and the order of the chapters may vary. However, all training materials must be in-line with current Government guidelines. (FDA Food Code 2013)

 

How long does the course take to complete?

The joy of learning on-line with us is that you can stop and start the course as often as you like. We’d recommend you try and take the course in chunks of time that allow you to get through each chapter as a whole, but if you need a break then that’s what you can do.

So the answer is – it depends your learning style.

If you start the course and work straight through – then it can be done within 1 hour.

  

Does my certificate expire?

Again, different states, counties and cities have different rules on how often they expect you to refresh your Allergen Awareness learning. As a recommended guide, Allergen Awareness training needs to be re-taken/refreshed every 3 years, (Illinois is a mandatory 3 year renewal). We do suggest you check with your local health authority.

 

Do I have to be currently employed to take this Allergen Awareness course?

Absolutely not!

The great news is that research has proven that people who walk into an interview and can prove (usually by a certificate) that they are already completed the course and passed the test, are more likely to be recruited over those that can’t.

AND – yes it gets even better! – research also shows that not only would you have this competitive advantage, but that these employers are likely to pay more for those candidates that they see as less risky and more food safe.

 

Do the courses have ‘use-by’ dates?

If you register and pay for a course yourself, you will have 30 days access to complete the course training material and the test (most complete within 1-2 days).

If you buy multiple courses or a bundle for you and your staff, the 30 days only start when each course code is activated /registered. This way you can buy as many course codes as you like and use them as and when you need to.

On gaining a pass in the test, the course access will then end, leaving you with the ability to download your pass certificate anytime you like by simply logging back in.

 

Do we print & post the Allergen Awareness certificate to you?

No, we do not print & post certificates.

You will be able to download your certificate as a PDF document when you pass the test. You can then print or save to your computer. The certificate is held on the system and you can log back in and download at any time.

By printing the certificate, yourself, we are able to maintain our unique low price point.
This is entirely legitimate, in accordance with the official qualification guidelines and accepted by your LHO.

  

What if I fail the test – can I take it again without paying for a retest?

Yes – once you’ve paid for your course, then you can take the test as many times as you need to until you pass WITHOUT HAVING TO PAY AGAIN.

We want you to succeed and be the proud owner of your certificate and so it’s important to us that we support you in this.

 

Do I need to buy supporting study materials?

No -once you pay for your course, everything you need to learn is on-line as part of the instruction. We’d suggest you take notes whilst you’re interacting with the course, and for your reference afterwards but there is no need to spend money on any other study aids.

 

If I pay more money, do I get better training?

No, this does not necessarily go together.

We pioneered the low-cost model combining low purchase price with a high quality video learning experience filmed in kitchens to give you the best possible understanding.

A comment made to us on a regular basis is: “because of the price, I thought I would get an inferior product and actually, it’s very good”!!! …we like to think this is a compliment!

What you should look at before buying a course is the quality of the content, (most have a demo chapter), what it covers and the level of accreditation it has.

We strongly suggest you compare all the main training providers.
1 – What is the cost?
2 – What is the demo like?
3 – Is it accredited?
4 – What level of support do you get while you learn?
5 – What support do I get after I’ve completed my course?

 

Will I learn as much taking an on-line course instead of a face-to-face course?

Yes. Our courses covered everything that is required by the FDA Food Code and more.

We’ve deliberately planned to make sure your on-line training not only covers the basics, but through sections such as our deliberate mistakes, you’ll be reminded of the vital learning points that are crucial to your allergen awareness knowledge.

Another important factor in choosing training is often cost and time commitment.
Face to face is more expensive as this must cover a trainers’ wage, room hire, cost of replacement staff to cover your shift.

We also believe on-line offers more flexibility. A learner can choose when they want to study. It may be in the evening, at the weekend, when there is a slow day. The choice is their own. You can study in one go or for example in 30-minute bite sized chunks.

Again, it is the learner’s choice. They are not tied to an exact date to attend a face to face course.

With all on-line products, as long as you have internet access, you can study from anywhere in the world. 24/7.

Our virtual learning environment is also responsive and so whether you want to study on your mobile phone, on a tablet or a PC at work or even in the local library, you can choose the best way, time and place for you.

 

What are the business benefits of on-line training?

From a business perspective, you don’t have to arrange day long classroom training which is usually more expensive and has the extra hidden cost of additional staff cover whilst someone attends a course.

Many businesses let staff come in a few hours later or go home earlier so they can spend time studying whilst at quiet times in the day. Again, the flexibility allows you to decide when and where.

From a business perspective, most on-line systems will also allow you some type of back-end monitoring. (Ask the provider what they can offer).

As a company, we have received a lot of positive feedback about our back-end! For the larger groups it allows them to track learners across the country.
A large customer of ours with over 4000 outlets stated that with a paper based manual system it was practically impossible to keep a track on their staff and compliance levels. Now all their information is immediately available in their own dedicated on-line area.

Our own system even allows you to monitor an individual’s progress, time spent on the course, % pass mark, which questions they answered incorrectly, number of attempts at the test.
You can also assign codes yourself and store a copy of everyone’s certificate. It’s a great system and many of our customers use it extensively to monitor compliance within their businesses.

 

Why should I buy your Allergen Awareness course?

As a company our mission has always been to deliver the highest quality accredited training at the lowest possible cost.
This is the main reason why we have been extremely successful in developing strong relationships within the major foodservice customers.
We set out to offer a fully Accredited Award at the highest level, backed up with a quality product that has received many plaudits for its quality and design.

We genuinely believe we have the best quality on-line product on the market at one of the lowest prices with the best management monitoring tools.
We are committed to permanently maintaining a low-price position, and always will do so.