TORONTO – Canada’s new Frontline Online Learning program on Safe Food Handling for that nation’s grocery sector has been released by the Canadian Grocery HR Council (CGHRC), with funding support from the Government of Canada's Sector Council Program (SCP).

"Food handlers have a huge responsibility to keep the public safe from consuming contaminated food, so proper training on safe food handling is a top priority for our industry," said Patti Galbraith, project manager for the CGHRC.

As a part of the CGHRC's new Frontline Online Learning system, the Safe Food Handling program includes seven courses geared to front-line employees, with a grocery-specific emphasis on how to properly handle and process food, along with a list of standard food-safety rules everyone should follow.

The number of Canadian news references on food safety has increased from 20,000 references in 1996 to more 100,000 today, according to CIES, The Food Business Forum. And the Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that every year between 11 and 13 million Canadians suffer from illnesses caused by foodborne bacteria, which it says, in most cases, can be prevented by using safe food-handling practices.

Health Canada said foodborne illnesses are the largest class of emerging infectious diseases – more than 2.2 million cases each year – and estimates the annual costs related to these illnesses exceeds $2 billion due to medical and hospital expenses, lost income, time off work and loss of business to food processors and food retailers.

The Frontline Online Learning program on Safe Food Handling was developed in collaboration with the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors (CCGD) and the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG). The Frontline Online Learning system is the first, and only, 24/7 online training solution available to Canada's independent grocers, and is the only industry-wide system available to large grocery chains and medium-sized enterprises.

The Canadian Grocery HR Council (CGHRC) is a nationally recognized, non-profit organization funded by the Government of Canada's Sector Council Program that brings together representatives from business, labor, education, industry associations, government and other professional groups to support a collective response to the grocery industry's human resource challenges.