Face to face versus online learning, what is right for your food business?

Why do you need to train your staff?

Everyone who sells or serves food must make sure by law that it is safe to eat, and employers must make sure their staff are suitably trained or supervised. The majority of food business access training courses for their staff, provided in house or by an external training provider, and use the certificates to demonstrate what training their staff have done.

As well as the compliance side of things training can have many positive benefits including happier, more efficient and more productive workers, but what type of training is best?

E-learning v  Face to Face training

In the last few years there has been huge leaps forward in online or e-learning food safety training. However, for years many food businesses have trained their staff in traditional classroom settings as this was the only option available. Now many training providers are developing their own online courses which are generally much cheaper and more convenient to access for the customer.

There appears to be a perception in the food industry by some that online learning is not as good in terms of quality and is less effective in terms of the understanding of learners, however there have been many studies undertaken about this subject and one researchers findings were that:

“…it is clear that when compared using gross measures of learning effectiveness, students learn as much if not more from online courses as they do in traditional higher education courses.”(Swan 2003)

The Pros and Cons

There are pros and cons with both types of learning so to help you decide what is right for your company I have put together a list to help you make an informed choice:

Classroom/Face to Face learning


  • Ideal for small to medium groups of learners
  • Suitable for all learning styles
  • Convenient as learning can be done in the workplace in a familiar environment
  • Greater engagement as staff can ask questions and receive feedback from the trainer at the time to help with understanding
  • Courses can be made bespoke to the company or to the learners
  • Assistance can be given to learners if necessary
  • Action plans can be put together to encourage staff to put into practice what they have learnt on the course
  • Trainers can use their specific knowledge and expertise to add value to the course especially in higher level courses


  • Can be expensive to organise, particularly for large numbers of staff e.g. venue, travel, food, etc. or small businesses with a limited training budget
  • Can cause staffing issues e.g. if all managers in the business are attending a course on the same day
  • New/existing staff may have to wait to do training if they missed the course as they had not started yet or were off sick/on holiday when the course was run.



  • Easy for learner to access at a time when they need it
  • Large numbers of staff can access the training via the online platform (at the same time)
  • Social learning options can be added to e-learning to staff are not learning in isolation
  • Is generally cheaper, for large numbers as training providers often offer discounts; and for small businesses with small training budgets
  • Gaming elements can be included to assist learning
  • Good for visual and auditory learners


  • Learners cannot ask questions which can hinder their understanding or clarification particularly for higher level courses
  • Poor quality e-learning platforms can be difficult to navigate through leading to frustration
  • Can become a ‘tick box’ exercise which devalues the training
  • Not as good for kinesthetic or tactile learners (who learn by doing physical activities)

It is generally recognised that a blend of online and face to face training will ensure that staff have the knowledge and skills to do their jobs properly and will help them to produce safe food for customers.

Food Safety Logic offer both face to face and online training courses. Please contact us for an informal chat if you would like to discuss your training needs further.


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