The three levels of Food Hygiene Certificate are the most popular and most widely recognised qualifications when it comes to working with food, whether that means on the production line, in a kitchen, or even in retail. Of these, the food hygiene Level 2 certification is the one that most workers will need, because it gives a good understanding of food hygiene. However, many people will wonder how long it actually lasts, and whether or not they’ll need to take it at regular intervals. We’re going to answer that question in this article.
The truth is that there is no set time that the certificate is valid for. However, a number of factors will determine how often the course should be retaken, and we’re going to take a look at them.
EU Regulation 852/2004 requires food businesses to ensure any staff who handles food are supervised, instructed and trained in food hygiene in a way that is appropriate for the work they do. As a business owner or supervisor, you have a duty to comply with the provisions of Regulation (EC) 852/2004 of the European Parliament on the Hygiene of Foodstuffs, the Food Safety Act 1990, and the Food Hygiene Regulations 2005
When you pass the course and receive your certificate, this will have no expiry on it, and in theory you’d be free to use it on your CV indefinitely. However, you’d have to ask yourself if you’d feel comfortable saying that you still had all of the relevant skills and knowledge five years later. Would you be able to remember everything you had learnt? This is especially important given that this is a matter of health and safety - poor food hygiene can result in illnesses, and can be particularly severe when it comes to allergies. It’s not worth the risk, and as a result, individuals may wish to retake the course whenever they feel as though they need a refresher, whether as part of their role, or when they’re applying for new ones.
Aside from this, certain bodies will in fact insist upon certain intervals between the course being retaken. The NHS for example does require that anyone needing the certificate renews it every 12 months, and this may well apply to businesses contracted to deliver NHS services too. Similarly, local authorities may require that those working with food in schools have to take the course every year or two. As a general rule, the food and drinks industry as a whole has set the limit at about three years for retaking the certificate, and you’ll find that most organisations stick within this. It ensures that everyone is fully trained and knowledgeable, as opposed to simply ticking a box.
One of the most important points to note is that the Level 2 Certificate can be take online in a matter of hours, which means that there’s no excuse for not retaking it when you need to. It’s a straightforward e-learning course that can be completed in chunks, either in free time or at work. Given that it’s not too long, there aren’t any refresher courses as there are with some other health and safety qualifications.
If you’re new to the food hygiene certificates, understanding what they cover may help you decide how often you, your colleagues or employers may need to take them.
The Level two certificate is the middle level of the three, and is designed for most people working with food and drink who aren’t supervisors or those who are responsible for implementing policy. It covers everything from food law, to the ways in which food should safely be handled and prepared, to the details of allergens and more.
At Virtual College, we offer the Level 2 Food Hygiene certificate, tailored for various industries including catering and manufacturing. Visit the various course pages to get a better idea of what the Level 2 certificate involves, or our food and drink hub for more resources on the subject. We’re pleased to be able to present our online food training courses as interactive e-learning packages that can be completed in two to three hours.