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Best Practices for Food Establishment Inspectors

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This free online food inspector and safety course is designed for those who have already been hired as a food inspector. It is designed to supplement local preparatory training. In this cohort-based program, you will learn to effectively evaluate the safety of a food establishment against your country's food safety benchmarks.

This online food inspector certification and training course begins with an overview of food safety and your role as a food inspector. Next, you will be taught about foodborne pathogens and facility design. Finally, you will learn about your specific role as a food inspector and what to do when there is a food-borne outbreak.

This 10-week course is in line with WHO's regional food safety strategy, and over 10 lessons will look at the science and technique on how to evaluate a food establishment. 

Key features of the course

This course will enable you to receive an online food handlers certification. At the end of this course, after completing the readings, quizzes and assignments, you will be able to:

  • Employ your organizations food establishment safety checklist with more confidence and skill.
  • Explain the "whys," with the scientific background or justification, for the items on the typical inspection checklist.
  • Really "see" with significantly greater clarity the behaviours, processes, and physical items that can be an issue for safe food production.
  • Issue a completed, professional assessment for a food establishment business.
  • Provide food establishment food safety improvement coaching where allowed by your agency.


In this first class you will be given an overview of what is meant by "food safety."  Generally, it is meant the best practices to make sure that fresh and processed food is not accidentally (or purposely) "contaminated" with biological, chemical, or physical contamination to the point that it might harm humans and often, pets.  Unsafe food is especially hard on the elderly, the young, the sick and immunocompromised, and pregnant women.  Learning Outcomes for this ClassAt the end of Class 1, Parts 1 and 2, you will have:1) Have an increased knowledge of the size of the impact of food-borne illness in the world and in the Pacific region. 2) See some examples of foodborne illness on Pacific Islands.3) Know where and how to access WHO data on foodborne illness.
Most learners taking this class are doing so because they have a job as a Food Establishment Inspector.  The organization that hired you should be providing you with training, like this, in-the-field experience with mentors where you get to practice your powers of observation and get feedback to improve your performance, and the legal and leadership support you need to do your job well.  You have a responsibility to the public to do a good job when you are reviewing a food establishment.  In this session we will talk briefly about doing an on-site evaluation in an organized, thorough, and professional manner.  After this introduction you will learn more about the science of food safety and then we will talk again about doing on-site inspections.Learning Outcomes for this ClassAt the end of Class 2 you will have: 1) Developed an understanding on how food regulations are developed. 2) Observed Food Establishment Inspectors undertaking a food establishment inspection. 3) Demonstrated skills and knowledge in documenting a food establishment inspection on an inspection checklist.
In Class 1 you had some brief exposure to foodborne diseases and now you will get to see a wider perspective on the types of possible contamination in foods (and drinks).Learning Outcomes for this ClassAt the end of Class 3 you be able to give examples of:1) Biological contaminants. 2) Chemical contaminants.3) Physical contaminants.
Humans live in a germy world!  There are biological risks, lots of them.  But thankfully, if we are healthy and strong most of us get past bouts of diarrhoea and throwing up and perhaps our immune system is even stronger because to it.  Germs - scientifically defined as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa - can be of great help to us in some form, or can kill us when we come in contact with them in ways that are not safe for us. Let's learn a bit more about the "pathogens" so that we might understand better the reasons we don't want them on our cutting boards, in our wash water systems, or directly in our food ingredients and why we need to follow industry (or government) best practices to reduce the chance of foodborne illness.Learning Outcomes for this ClassAt the end of Class 4 you will:1) Know the names, impact duration times, and impact of many typical foodborne pathogens. 2) Know about pathogen multiplication and the conditions required for pathogen replication.3) Understand that good human hygiene behaviors is one of the best ways to reduce the chance of pathogen transmission.
In the last class we learned a lot about pathogens and how fast they can multiply.  Now, let's better understand how foods (and liquids) can themselves be the risk factor since they can be a breeding ground for pathogens.  Not all food ingredients can be made and mixed and left out in the open air.  Many ingredients and final mixes, once combined, can provide all the right conditions for harmful pathogens to grow.  In this class, you will learn about F.A.T. T.O.M. conditions and T.C.S. foods and how they need to be handled to reduce risks.  By knowing this you can be looking out for those cases when a food establishment is not handling food, or ingredients, correctly. Learning Outcomes for this ClassAt the end of Class 5 you will have:1) An understanding of T.C.S. - time & temperature controls for food safety foods. 2) What F.A.T. T.O.M is and how important the management of the conditions is to safe food.3) Be able to describe at least one traditional food from your culture that is a T.C.S. food.
As entrepreneurs get interested in "adding value" to food ingredients and making ready-to-eat foods or foods that have some amount of shelf-life, where they process their foods is as important as how they process.  Ceilings, lights, rafters, walls, equipment, floor surfaces, food contact surfaces, etc., can all be places where pathogens, or pathogen vectors such as rodents, birds, and cockroaches, can reside and multiply.  Additionally, flaking paint and insulation can also drop down on food contact surfaces or in open ingredients or final products.  Learn about the physical risks of food manufacturing in this class.Learning Outcomes for this ClassAt the end of Class 6 you will have:1) A greater understanding of where pathogens can hide and multiply in a commercial production environment. 2) Know how to go about looking for them.3) Be able to make suggestions to Food Establishment owners about how to improve the cleaning of their surfaces and equipment as allowed by your inspection system.
In most countries, the full and accurate disclosure of ingredients in manufactured foods for humans (and pets) is mandated.  Accurate discloser of ingredients can help a shopper decide if the product they are considering buying is nutritionally good for them and their family.  This is critical with the human obesity problem many people and countries are facing.  Similarly, many millions of people can be (dangerously) allergic to food ingredients such as wheat, soy, eggs, shellfish, peanuts, etc.  Here is an United Kingdom flyer on 14 allergens:   We will explore how to read a label and how to make sure you are seeing what is really going into a manufactured product during a food inspection.Learning Outcomes for this ClassAt the end of Class 7 you will have:1) A clear understanding why labelling - accurate labeling - is important. 2) The parts of the food label.3) The agencies who suggest, and often, enforce, accurate food labeling.
Performing an inspection of a food establishment is like giving a student a test - it can be stressful on everyone!  While there is now much more of an interest in doing inspections from the government level to upgrade the safety of our global food system, food entrepernuers are often unprepared, uninterested, or unwilling to have their establishments "graded."  But, times have changed and it is time to get all food purveyors in alignment with best practices.  But, what are those practices and who made them?  In this class you will find out.  You will also be shown the many things to look for in an inspection because they would be places where a food-borne illness could arise.Learning Outcomes for this ClassAt the end of Class 8 you will have:1) Get to see the tools that some of the best inspection departments are using. 2) Know where to look for pathogens, pest and pest dropping, and general filth.3) Understand how perhaps your own kitchen might influence your view of commercial kitchens during an inspection.
While rare, on a global scale, food-borne outbreaks happen daily somewhere on the planet.  While it seems like there are more and more each day, certainly, food-borne outbreaks have been with humans for a long time.  Depending on the size of your organizational unit, you may have been involved in an outbreak response or have never or will never be involved in one.  That said, knowing what do to, just in case, it a best practice for you.Learning Outcomes for this ClassAt the end of Class 9 you will have:1) Reaffirm the reason we want our food system to be safe. 2) An understanding of the flow of a suspected outbreak investigation.3) Knowledge of some of the outbreak-response tools available in the Pacific region.
Over the last 9 classes you have been exposed to a lot of information; much of it new.  It is hoped that you have a MUCH greater understanding of why, as a food inspector, that your job is so critical to so many people.  Food matters and none of us should worry about the safety of what we eat or drink.  Let's review some of the high points of what you have learned and take the final exam to get your certificate.  Good luck!Learning Outcomes for this ClassAt the end of Class 10 you will have:1) Spent over 20 hours increasing your knowledge of food safety, food science, responses to foodborne illness, and Food Establishment Inspections. 2) You would have tested your ability to comprehend and use that knowledge on exams and written assignments.3) Increased your ability to provide a fair, science-based and regulatory-based Food Establishment Inspection.

How it works

Study material

This self-paced course has been created so that it is easy to understand and easy to access. It uses a range of different materials designed by qualified experts. Mediums of teaching include pre-recorded videos, lecture slides, quizzes and assignments.

Getting help

Connect with other students through the course forum, where you can easily discuss the course or debate ideas. Your instructors are also available online to answer any questions you might have.

Extend your career with a verified certificate

POLHN self-paced courses are recognised by Pacific Ministries of Health. Once you successfully complete the course, you will receive an official certificate, which can be used for credit to gain CPD points.

Course Questions & Answers

Course summary

Course code: BP-Food Inspectors
Average length: 2 hours
Effort: 20 hours
Number of modules: 10
Institution: WHO
Subject: Best Practices for Food Establishment Inspectors
Language: English
Mode: Self-paced
Status: To be scheduled

Course author

Pacific NCDs and Health Through the Lifecourse

Division of Pacific Technical Support

World Health Organization | Division of Pacific Technical Support | Suva, Fiji

POLHN has dedicated public health professionals in its DPS research team who have decade long experiences in Health Security & Emergencies , NCDs and Health Through the Lifecourse, Health Systems.

Course focal point

Pacific NCDs and Health Through the Lifecourse

Technical support

Muhammad Noman Ali

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