ARCHIVED - Safe Food Canada: The Learning Partnership

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Drivers for Change: Why Now?

  • Globally-integrated supply chains
  • Increased emphasis on international standards
  • Foreign and domestic market requirements for food safety management system certification
  • Rapid evolution of food safety risks and the continual advance of knowledge in food safety risk management
  • Significant legislative changes to food underway in Canada
  • Transformative changes to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) programs and processes
  • High consumer expectations for food safety
  • Training is a priority for industry and government alike

Canada's Food Safety System: Who are the Players?

Image - Canada's Food Safety System: Who are the Players? Description follows.
Description of Image - Canada's Food Safety System: Who are the Players?

The image illustrates potential collaboration of the different players in the Learning Partnership. The image is composed of an outer circle with nine inset bubbles for each potential partner around the image of a Canadian flag. It has been adapted from a diagram used by IFPTI in 2013 in their PowerPoint Presentation entitled "Framework of an Integrated Food Safety System" delivered to the Integrated Food Safety System Toolkit Workshop.

Outer bubbles:

The outer bubbles show the various potential learning partners, which are as follows (starting from the top bubble and moving clockwise):

  • Producers
  • Distributors and Transporters
  • Retailers
  • Processors
  • Associations
  • Regulatory Agencies
  • Consumers and Consumer Groups
  • Third-party Auditors
  • Academia/Private Providers

Source: Adapted from IFPTI (2013), IFSS Toolkit Workshop, "Framework of an Integrated Food Safety System".

  • Canada's global reputation as a producer of safe, high-quality food is a significant factor in the continued strength and growth of the agri-food sector.
  • Protecting the health of Canadians along with its resources and environment is a collaborative effort:
    • Industry is responsible for producing safe food and managing risks associated with its products and processes.
    • Industry associations offer guidance, programs, training and tools to their members or sectors.
    • Regulatory agencies (including federal, provincial, territorial governments) administer and enforce food safety regulatory requirements.
    • Consumers and consumer groups provide information and feedback to the system.
    • Third-party auditors audit industry compliance with Canadian and international food safety requirements.
    • Academia/Private Providers develop educational programs and courses to meet learning needs.

Where Does Education and Training fit in a Strongly Performing Food Safety System?

Click on image for larger view
Image - Where Does Education and Training fit in a Strongly Performing Food Safety System? Description follows.

Description of Image - Where Does Education and Training fit in a Strongly Performing Food Safety System?

The image illustrates how education and training fit in a strongly performing food safety system. The image is composed of two main parts – a rectangle (oriented vertically) about education and training joined to a pentagon (oriented horizontally), which illustrate the different elements of the food safety system. The pentagon points to a small text box to its right, which describes the current situation of food safety education and training in Canada. The text states: "Current challenge - Fragmented approaches across sectors causing learning gaps, inconsistent skill development and unnecessary/ineffective spending of learning dollars."

In the rectangle is a small oval, which says "Education and training". An arrow extends down from this oval to the following text:

  • Food safety-related occupations and functions:
  • HACCP coordinator
  • Food inspector
  • Food safety lab technician
  • Food safety auditor
  • Regulatory affairs manager
  • Line supervisors
  • Team members
  • etc.

Inside the pentagon is a circle with inset bubbles for each element of the food safety system. The title of the circular diagram, "Elements of the food safety system" is shown in the central circle. The outer bubbles are as follows (starting from the top bubble and moving clockwise):

  • Legislation
  • Food safety certification systems and standards
  • Oversight - sampling and testing
  • Traceability
  • Data management
  • Audit and evaluation
  • Consumer awareness and demand
  • Research and development
  • Education and training

The Learning Challenge: What is it?

  • Current challenges
    • Availability: Most food safety courses are aimed at entry-level food service industry workers and there is no defined career path for food safety professions.
    • Cost-intensive: As a result, industry and government each develop their own in-house training – despite sharing many common training needs – which leads to considerable expense and duplication of effort.
    • Accessibility: Despite the ever-growing need for expertise, fiscal constraints limit access to learning, particularly for small businesses.
    • Regulatory modernization requires new approaches and investments.
  • Proposed solution
    • A joint industry-government-academia partnership defining competency-based learning outcomes against which all food safety training and education can be benchmarked and certified.
  • Expected benefits
    • An increased number of food safety professionals and workers with the knowledge and skills needed by industry and government.
    • A foundation to ensure the quality of food safety education and training continuously improves.
    • Greater confidence of employers in the qualifications of new professionals and workers that they hire.
    • Clarity of career path options for food safety professionals and workers and greater ease of skill transfe.
    • Avoidance of fragmented and duplicative training programs, lower costs and better value for training investments.

Logo and text - International Food Protection Training Institute: An initiative of the Global Food Protection Institute. An arrow pointing to a Canadian flag below.

What Model Could Canada Consider?

  • Many good food safety training systems available (e.g., U.S., U.K. and Australia) - the International Food Protection Training Institute in the U.S. features:
    • Globally-acclaimed model for private public partnership that addresses public-health needs;
    • Supports a fully integrated food safety system (U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act);
    • Fosters international collaboration through partnerships: industry, academia, all levels of government and other associations/organizations.
  • Proposal: Canada creates a "Learning Partnership" to develop and implement a:
    • Comprehensive food safety learning framework based on international standards;
    • Competency-based food safety education and training for personnel in industry (including small businesses) and at all levels of government; and
    • Certification implemented by a private entity to help ensure comparable and competent food safety staff in industry and government.

What are the Benefits?

Quality, Consistency, Accessibility

  • Industry
    • Reduces costs for learning with standardization of courses (where appropriate) with government and academia/non-government organizations
    • Facilitates hiring/learning through a uniform, competency-based approach
    • Provides access to a pool of competent entry-level workers
    • More effective use of personnel development time by having career pathway and sequencing
    • Supports small businesses by providing no-cost or low-cost training material and tools (e.g., introduction to food safety requirements and best practices)
  • Academia/Private Training
    • Increases participation in food system courses through clearer learning pathways
    • Increases interest in food-related professions
    • Facilitates pathway for students from education to careers
    • Creates potential to build capacity and partnerships in delivering food safety courses
  • Government
    • Cost-effective way to strengthen Canada's food safety system
    • Increases mobility between workers in the public sector (federal, provincial, territorial and local) and private sector and encourages joint education and training
    • Enhances recruitment and retention by creating competency-based career paths and having employees belong to a professional community
    • Improves overall consistency and conformity of services delivered (e.g., inspections, regulatory practices, laboratory work, etc.)

What are the Key Components?

Image 1 of 2 - What are the Key Components? Description follows.
Description of Image 1 - What are the Key Components?

The image illustrates the key components of the Learning Partnership initiative.

The diagram is composed of two levels of information:

The first level is a row of boxes, which list potential stakeholder communities that will collaborate with the Learning Partnership. The stakeholder communities will evolve depending upon Learning Partnership goals and requirements. From left to right they are listed as: Regulatory Communities, Food Safety Auditor Community and Industry (including small businesses). Double-sided arrows from each of the stakeholder communities feed into the box representing the Learning Partnership below, to illustrate collaboration and the sharing of information.

The second row is made up of three boxes, which describe how the Learning Partnership will operate.

The first box (starting from the left) relates to training, and communicates that various institutions will be involved in the delivery of training. A double sided arrow connects the first and second box (Learning Partnership) in order to show the linkages between the Learning Partnership and the various institutions that will be delivering training.

The second box identifies the Learning Partnership entity, which will be a "small, accessible and non-bureaucratic organization". The role of the Learning Partnership is described with a text box and arrow pointing to it as follows: "The Learning Partnership will set competency requirements and standards for quality for learning/training/etc. Various entities could be recognized to develop and deliver education and training (e.g., agencies, associations, institutes, academia, and training companies), provided that they follow the prescribed content and standards."

The third box represents the separate entity responsible for certification. The connection between the second and third box is illustrated by a zigzagged symbol to show the separation between the Learning Partnership and the certification body. The explanation given for the third box, represented by a text box and arrow pointing to it, is as follows: "An independent entity will assess and certify based on national standards or competency requirements for industry and government."

Image 2 of 2 - What are the Key Components? Description follows.
Description of Image 2 - What are the Key Components?

The image provides more details about the stakeholder communities, which will contribute to the Learning Partnership. The image is composed of three rectangles (vertically oriented), each for a specific stakeholder community.

In the first rectangle from the left, titled "Regulatory Communities", there is an image of all the provincial and territorial flags surrounding the Canadian flag in the middle. Below the flag image, is a text box describing the proposed role of the stakeholder community.

For the Regulatory Communities, the following explanation is provided: "Regulators could leverage a comprehensive curriculum framework (see Annex A) to support the professional development of federal, provincial, local food regulators in Canada."

In the second rectangle titled "Food Safety Auditor Community", this community is represented by an image of a checklist and a pencil, with three of the four boxes checked off. Below the checklist is a text box with the following explanation: "A set of Canadian requirements could be developed for the qualifications and competencies of food safety auditors and other personnel involved in the audit and certification of food safety management/assurance systems."

In the third rectangle, titled "Industry (including small businesses)", there is an image of different food products prepared by Canadian businesses. The first image shows a plate of shrimp with green beans. The second dish shows two fajitas with salsa. Finally, the last image shows a cupcake with white icing and a strawberry on top. The following explanation is provided: "Initiatives such as sharing of best practices, expertise and outreach to raise awareness and increase understanding of regulatory requirements (e.g., how to apply preventive controls)."

What are they Potential Next Steps?

Image - What are the potential next steps? Description follows.
Description of Image - What are they Potential Next Steps?

The image illustrates the potential next steps for the Learning Partnership. It is composed of three levels. Arrows and text boxes are used to illustrate the continuum of events to take place in the next year. Dates are listed in arrows which are pointing down to the next step and the arrow is attached to a rectangular text box which explains what will happen at that stage.

The first (top level) communicates what the next steps are for summer 2014. "Summer 2014" appears in the arrow and the explanation of what is to happen at this stage is as follows: "Engage with governments, industry and academia to discuss/refine concept, including roles and responsibilities."

The second level communicates the steps for winter 2014. "Winter 2014" appears in the arrow and the explanation of what is to happen at this stage is as follows: "Incorporate feedback and establish the advisory body of the Learning Partnership."

The third (bottom level) communicates the final step. "Early 2015" appears in the arrow and the explanation of what is to happen at this stage is as follows: "Launch the Learning Partnership."


  • How could a Learning Partnership benefit you?
  • What do you think of the competence-based approach and the concept of national standards or requirements?
  • What steps do we need to take, in your mind, to make the Learning Partnership a success?
  • How best can the Learning Partnership meet the diverse learning requirements for all stakeholders (e.g., e-learning, targeted courses, etc.)?


By email:

Annex A

Template for a Competency-Based Curriculum Framework

Image - Template for a Competency-Based Curriculum Framework. Description follows.
Description of Image - Template for a Competency-Based Curriculum Framework

This grid shows a simplified template Canada can draw on to develop its own competency-based curriculum framework, based on the IFPTI curriculum framework. The curriculum framework is designed to demonstrate the interrelationship between, among, and the possible progression through, four professional levels as well as to represent content areas within the professional levels and tracks. The basic structure of the framework is depicted in a multi-tiered, colour-coded grid.

The first column of the grid identifies four possible professional levels. Starting from the bottom on the left the image shows four rows or levels:

Entry level—new hires (usually staff are in this level for about two years, however some may move though more quickly, some may take more time, depending on education and experience).

Journey level—a more experienced level at which many staff spend the majority of their careers.

Technical specialist level—food safety professionals with specific, focused areas of expertise.

Leadership level—middle- and upper-management positions.

The second column of the grid describes the content areas relevant to each of the professional levels. Each content area can contain multiple courses from any training provider across the country. The content areas provide a means to map competencies and to catalog and sequence any available courses.

In the Leadership level, the second column is described as "Leadership Development – Employee to Senior Executive" to reflect content areas specific to leaders.

In each of the Entry, Journey and Technical Specialist levels, the training is sub-divided into three tiers:

The bottom tier in each of these levels is "Training in common", represented as a large horizontal bar spanning the entire second column. This reflects the courses that all participants within the professional level need to take.

The next tier above is divided into three columns to demonstrate potential professional tracks available to food safety workers (e.g., unprocessed products, manufactured products and retail). At the Entry level (starting from the left), the content area for each track are described as:

Unprocessed Foundations, Manufactured Foundations and Retail Foundations. At the Journey and Specialist levels, the content areas for each track are: Unprocessed Concentration, Manufactured Concentration and Retail Concentration.

The top tier in each of the levels is "Practicum/on the job/ recognition", represented as a narrow, horizontal bar spanning the entire second column. This tier reflects learning that will continue as a practicum or through on-the-job development of knowledge, abilities, and skills for all of the professional levels and tracks.

The last two columns of the grid reflect courses and opportunities which apply to all professional levels. The columns extend from Entry level in the bottom row to Leadership at the top. The first full-length vertical column (from the left) reflects content area is "Emerging Issues" and the second column is for "Annual Updates".

The example above shows a simplified version of a potential curriculum framework that could be used for either industry or the regulator (based on the U.S. IFPTI model). Please see the handout for an example of an existing curriculum framework developed in Canada by the CFIA.

Annex B

Proposed Principles of the Learning Partnership

Image - Proposed Principles of the Learning Partnership. Description follows.
Description of Image - Proposed Principles of the Learning Partnership

The image illustrates seven of the proposed principles of the Learning Partnership. It is composed of seven rectangular boxes. Three boxes appear on a top row, three more boxes appear directly under these, with one box appearing under these six, centered under the middle boxes of the rows above.

Starting from the top left, and moving to the right, the boxes read: First box: "Foster a food safety community", Second box: "National in scope", Third box: "Competence-based".

Starting from the left box on the second row and moving to the right, the boxes read: First box: "Not-for-profit entity", Second box: "Accessible", Third box: "Public-private partnership".

The last box on the bottom row reads: "Leadership body for industry, government and academia alike".

Annex C

Proposed Interim Governance Structure

Image - Proposed Interim Governance Structure. Description follows.
Description of Image - Proposed Interim Governance Structure

This image presents the proposed interim governance structure of the Learning Partnership. There are four levels to the governance structure.

On the first level, at the top of the structure, is the Board of Directors with a Canadian flag underneath it, to emphasize that this is a Canadian adaptation of the U.S. IFPTI model. On the second level, there is a box for the Advisory Council, followed by a box for the Executive Director on the third level. On the fourth level, there are three boxes, which each state "Staff TBD". This indicates that staff will likely be working on a number of different projects in support of the Learning Partnership, which have yet to be defined.

Note: This structure is modelled after the U.S. IFPTI's approach to governance.

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