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How Long Are Food Hygiene Certificates Valid For?

schedule 22nd January 2018 by Ben Piper in Food and Drink

vegetables being washed in sink

Anyone working in the food manufacturing or hospitality industry has a responsibility for ensuring that the food that they handle and serve is safe. Foodborne illnesses can be severe, which is why this commitment is taken so seriously. As a result, lots of people will undertake training and receive a certificate that demonstrates their knowledge. But who needs to take one of these courses, what do they involve, and how long does the certificate last?

Hygiene Certificates and the Law

Contrary to what many people expect, the law does not require any kind of specific formal training to work with food, and therefore there is no particular legal status for a food hygiene certificate. However, UK and EU law does mandate that anyone that works with food has adequate training for their job. Taking the appropriate training and receiving a certificate fulfils this legal requirement, which is why many employers and governing bodies insist on this happening. By holding a food hygiene certificate, you are demonstrating that you’ve made best efforts to meet EU guidelines. Inadequate training could very well result in poor food hygiene standards, which is why it’s so important.

There are three commonly recognised food safety certificates: Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. Level 2 is by far the most widely used and recognised, as it gives a very good understanding of all aspects of food hygiene. Level 1 covers only basic hazards, and Level 3 is aimed at managers and those implementing food safety policies.

Ultimately, anyone working with food intended for consumption, whether they’re in food manufacturing, or a chef in a restaurant, should consider formal food hygiene training.

How Long Does the Certificate Last?

In theory, there is no set time that a food hygiene certificate will last for, and the most widely used ones do not expire. However, the industry has generally decided as a convention that food safety certificates of all types should be renewed every three years at a minimum. This ensures that holders still have all of the knowledge and skills they need in order to carry on doing their job effectively. In addition, there could potentially be certain legal developments in that time, which would be covered during the training. In some organisations, such as the NHS, the certificate must be renewed every single year.

If you’re self employed, and you are responsible fo your own training, then it’s especially important to recognise the need to re-qualify regularly. You may think that you have remembered all of the important points from your training, but you can’t know for sure until you have retaken it. The cost and time commitment of taking the training again is comparatively very small indeed compared with the repercussions of not maintaining a good standard of food hygiene.

What Does Food Hygiene Training Cover?

We’ve already discussed the main differences between the differing levels of food hygiene certificate, but let’s go through all of the main topics that training will cover for a Level 2 certificate.

There are a variety of areas or modules to cover, and their aim is to ensure that you know everything you need to in order to safely store, handle and prepare food in any setting. By breaking them down into sections, they are easier to digest.

  • Food safety legislation is one of the first things that you’ll learn on a course. This covers both UK and EU laws, so that you understand what your legal responsibilities are.
  • Foodborne illnesses can be very severe in certain cases, so you will learn about microbial hazards, how they’re caused, how they’re prevented, and what their impact can be.
  • You’ll also learn what food hazards look like, including what causes contamination and how this can be prevented.
  • Storing food safely is just as important as preparing it safely, which is why there will be specific training in this area, including things like proper use of fridges and freezers.
  • Personal hygiene can have a big impact on the cleanliness of a kitchen or any food preparation area. As a result, you’ll learn exactly what you need to do to maintain excellent standards of personal hygiene.
  • The premises itself must be kept to a high standard of cleanliness, and you’ll learn how this can be achieved.
  • Finally, you’ll learn about HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) which is a system that helps businesses with safe handling of food.

Click the link for more information on what a level 2 food hygiene course entails, and how you can receive a food hygiene certificate on the Virtual College course page.


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Ben Piper - Virtual College

Author: Ben Piper

Ben is a member of the Virtual College marketing team. He has a degree in economics and writes about business and education issues. In his spare time he loves food, drink and films.

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