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How often should I renew my food hygiene certificate?

schedule 5th April 2018 by Virtual College in Food and Drink Last updated on 5th March 2019


Food hygiene certificates are extremely common in the food industry, and are essential for most employees. Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 Food Hygiene Certificates are the most often recognised in the industry, covering most things that people might need to know if they’re working with food. Unlike most qualifications, however, it’s generally considered that they don’t last forever, and need to be renewed. The question is, how often should this happen? There isn’t necessarily a definite answer, but in this article, we’re going to help clear things up.

What does the law say?

Food safety law in the UK, which also incorporates EU law, is surprisingly flexible, which is in some cases helpful, but also means that it’s not always entirely clear what is legally required. According to the law, anyone working with food in the UK should be adequately trained for their role. Technically, this could be informal training from a more experienced colleague rather than formal training, so food safety certificates are not actually required at all. As a result, there’s no legal requirement for renewal. However, employers must be able to show that employees have been adequately trained, particularly in the event of something going wrong, which is why food hygiene certificates are commonplace, and generally accepted as mandatory by the industry. Without an up-to-date food hygiene certificate, it is difficult to prove adequate training.

What do employers say?

Many employers will have their own standards for renewal in order to stay on the right side of the law and ensure they give excellent service, and as a general rule, the industry standard is to renew your food hygiene certificate every three years. In certain industries and with high risk employers such as the NHS, it may even be the case that most food hygiene certificates are renewed every single year.

What happens if you don’t renew your food hygiene certificate?

Failure to renew your certificate will have different potential consequences depending on your circumstances, such as whether you’re an employer, self-employed, or looking for work.

As an employer, failing to renew your employees’ food hygiene certificates could open you up to issues if something goes wrong. If a customer falls ill and pursues legal action, then it might be up to you to prove your employees are well trained. Similarly, food hygiene inspectors will expect to see well trained staff. And of course, better trained staff are more effective in their roles - refreshing training can be very helpful indeed.

If you’re looking for a new job in the food industry, then training that is well out of date is unlikely to be as valuable as recent training. If you’re really looking to impress potential new employers, then you’ll want to have an up-to-date certificate. This shows that not only do you have the necessary skills and knowledge, but that you’ve gone out of your way to make sure you do.

Of course, as an employee, or if you’re self-employed, you might feel that for your own peace of mind you need to renew your certificate. We don’t always remember everything that we’ve learned over a longer period, so re-taking the course and renewing your certificate could be a great way of refreshing your skills.

Renewing your certificate

Renewing your certificate means retaking a course and getting a new one. Fortunately, these can be taken online quickly and easily, which means that there’s really no need to delay. Virtual College is one such provider of food hygiene courses, and you can take any of the three Levels on our site. Click here to see our full range of online food hygiene courses.

The Level 2 course: is the most commonly taken course, suitable for most employees in the food industry that aren’t in a managerial role. If you currently have the Level 1 food hygiene certificate it may be worth upgrading to Level 2.

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Author: Virtual College

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