How to Develop an SQF-Compliant Training Program?

Training in the food industry is a continuous challenge, marked by the constant need for updates in food safety, regulatory compliance, and technology. Training is not merely a single event, but an ongoing endeavor that demands regular investment in creating ...

Developing an SQF-compliant training program

Training in the food industry is a continuous challenge, marked by the constant need for updates in food safety, regulatory compliance, and technology. 

Training is not merely a single event, but an ongoing endeavor that demands regular investment in creating training materials, holding sessions, and evaluating their impact. The complexity intensifies with the necessity to customize training for diverse roles, from front-line employees to executives, increasing the strain on resources. 

Balancing the need for through, current training against budget and staffing constraints is a frequent hurdle. Insufficient investment in training can compromise food safety standards, raising the risk of safety incidents.

The SQF Code, particularly element 2.9, outlines the training requirements that must be met to guarantee that personnel are competent in maintaining product safety and legality. 

This article provides a comprehensive strategy for meeting the training requirements of the SQF Code Ed. 9. 

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Develop and implement a Training Program

SQF requires that a training program is written and implemented. It is important that the roles and responsibilities for the training program must be defined. Key components must be covered during this process:

  1. Include different categories of training in the program:
  • Onboarding for full-time and temporary employees.¬†
  • On The Job Training (OJT)
  1. Outline the necessary competencies for specific roles (e.g., only those that work with CCP monitoring will get this training)
  2. Decide on the training methods for providing the training.
  3. Ensure that training covers the following topics at minimum:
  • HACCP Awareness
  • CCP Monitoring
  • Good Manufacturing Practices
  • Personnel Hygiene
  • Sampling and Testing
  • Environmental monitoring.
  • Allergen Management
  • Food Defense
  • Food Fraud
  1. Develop and implement a training schedule. 

Develop training materials

Training materials must be comprehensive and adapted to the language spoken by the employees of the site. 

Maintain training records

Accurate and up-to-date training records are crucial. The training records should include the following information at a minimum:

  1. Name of the trainer
  2. Name and role of the participant within the organization
  3. Training description
  4. Training date(s)
  5. Competency verification (i.e., quiz, observation, etc.)

In my experience, implementing training can be challenging, particularly in fast-paced operational environments. It necessitates a coordinated effort across all departments to guarantee that workforce attendance at essential training sessions causes minimal operational disruption. Setting and achieving a training completion target demands significant commitment from the site’s leadership team.

In conclusion, implementing a robust training strategy to meet SQF Code 2.9 Element requirements is essential for maintaining high food safety standards, and it is one of the foundations to Food Safety Culture. By defining responsibilities, providing appropriate training based on competencies, developing a comprehensive program, ensuring effective delivery, and maintaining meticulous records, organizations can endure they meet these critical standards and contribute to the overall safety and quality of the food industry.


Technology can facilitate more cost-effective training by enabling virtual sessions, which reduce physical resource needs and allow for scalable, repeatable training modules accessible across multiple facilities.
Demonstrating the ROI of training programs through metrics like reduced non-compliance incidents and improved audit results can engage senior management by linking training to business outcomes.
Regularly reviewing and updating training content is crucial. Establish a process for monitoring regulatory changes and integrating them into the training curriculum swiftly to maintain compliance.
Effectiveness can be evaluated through observational assessments, feedback from trainees on practical application of skills, and tracking of incident rates pre- and post-training to gauge real impact on operational practices.

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Picture of Radojka Barycki

Radojka Barycki

Radojka Barycki is an Award-Winning Quality Assurance, Food Safety, Training and Consulting Professional with 24+ years’ experience with demonstrated success in the development, implementation, and improvement of Quality and Food Safety Management Systems (SQF, BRCGS, FSSC2200)
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