Canada: Ottawa mulling course for all food workers

Ottawa Public Health is debating whether to force all food handlers in the city to take a mandatory food safety course.

Ottawa is considering mandatory training for all food service employees.Ottawa is considering mandatory training for all food service employees. (The Canadian Press)The city now offers a one-day voluntary food safety certification course and demand is high for that course.

Sherry Beadle, Ottawa health department’s program manager of food safety, said her department plans to consult with the food industry about the plan and whether a mandatory course has worked in other regions.

“Education occurs with every inspection that we conduct,” Beadle said. “The difference with this certification program is it allows a greater in-depth look at food handling practices. Training is always a good thing.”

Eight of the province’s 36 health units currently require mandatory certification.

Beadle said the move to a mandatory course would be to ensure food safety continues and not because there is a particular problem within the system.

“Certainly it is not as a result of a negative or an experienced problem. It is just ensuring that we are making food as safe as possible,” Beadle said.

Ottawa public health staff will present a report, and possibly a recommendation, early next year.

But Ottawa restaurant owner Daoud Ahmadi, who has been in the food industry for 13 years, said it should be a mandatory course for anyone who handles food.

He said he expects all his new employees to take the course even though it is currently voluntary.

“It is really important for people that are working on the food,” Ahmadi said.