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Last updated: 17.08.17

What is a food hygiene certificate?

Those working in the food industry will often be able to present a food hygiene certificate to their employer, but what does the certificate actually stand for?

When manufacturing, handling and serving food, professionals are provided with much responsibility. The mishandling of food, bad practice and neglect can lead to food-borne illnesses among customers. This is why it is crucial for professionals to maintain a high level of food hygiene.

According to the UK Food Standards Agency, every year over 500,000 food poisoning cases are caused by badly cooked food or food contaminated with bacteria. Food that is contaminated can have serious consequences for customers and business.

However, by investing in good quality food and hygiene training, both you and your employees will be able to share the knowledge and skills they need to ensure that the environment they deal with food in is safe.

Hygiene certificates and validification

In the UK, food business employers - from restaurant managers to corporate directors - are required by law to ensure that food handlers receive the appropriate supervision and training in food hygiene that is in line with their work, so that they can handle food safely. Food professionals who are in any way responsible for the development and maintenance of a company’s food safety management procedures must have received the correct training to enable them to do so.

What is a food hygiene certificate?

A food hygiene certificate is a document given to food handlers or anyone who completes a Food Safety & Hygiene training course that has been accredited. While food handlers aren’t required have a food hygiene certificate to prepare or sell food, the majority of food businesses will prefer that they do.

In addition to this, when it comes to employment, companies and organisations are more likely to hire candidates who have a valid food hygiene certificate over those who don’t. While food hygiene certificates in the UK don’t have an expiry date, food industry experts recommend they are updated every three years or so to correspond with legislation and technological developments in food hygiene. The decision to retrain staff is, however, left to the discretion of the food business operator or environmental health officer.

What will training include?

Food handler certificates can be attained through compliance training within the workplace, online e-learning in your own time or through relevant prior experience. Training providers like Virtual College offer food handlers e-learning courses that will ensure they are trained to the highest standard.

Formerly known as the Foundation or Basic Food Hygiene, the Level 2 Food Safety & Hygiene for Catering course is aimed at professionals working with food, or the managing of food professionals and can be used at the induction phase, as awareness, as a refresher course or as foundation training.

This module, accredited by City & Guilds, is a self-study course and allows all catering businesses, regardless of size, to provide all of their staff first class training. Once completed, learners will have a knowledge of a wide range of key food safety issues, including the three main types of food safety hazard, their sources and methods of control.

As well as this, learners will understands the temperatures needed for storage and food handling activities from delivery through to sale. They will also be aware of common food pests and how to control them, along with the principles of cleaning and disinfection and how these apply to the workplace.


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