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Frequently asked questions about food hygiene training

Virtual College is one of the leading providers of online food hygiene training, which means we're often asked about food hygiene and food safety law. Here are the answers to some of our most frequently asked food hygiene training questions.

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Food hygiene

General food hygiene questions

Why is food hygiene important?

If food is not prepared in a hygienic way, it may be unsafe for consumption and could increase the risk of foodborne illnesses. Good food hygiene is important for your business and its reputation, as well as the health of your customers. It's therefore vital to ensure all staff have received food hygiene training.


Why is food safety important?

A thorough understanding of food safety is essential for food handlers to demonstrate food hygiene best practice, to prevent risk of contamination or foodborne illnesses.


Who is responsible for food safety?

Food handlers and food businesses are responsible for the safety of the food that they provide to consumers. Their responsibilities include ensuring food is safe for consumption, and that its quality meets expectations. Food also needs to be labelled and advertised in a way that is not misleading, especially where allergies and intolerances are concerned


What is food hygiene and what is food safety

Food hygiene and food safety refer to the steps food handlers need to take to make sure food is processed, stored, distributed, transported and prepared without any risk to consumers' health. Check out our food hygiene resource bank to see how much you already know - you'll probably be surprised.


Where can I find a full list of Virtual College's food hygiene and safety courses?

You can find a list of Virtual College's food safety and hygiene courses here.

Food law questions

What legal responsibilities do food handlers have?

Food handlers are required by law to make sure that food is safe for human consumption. The law states that food handlers must report to their supervisor if they have a fever, diarrhoea, have vomited, have a facial sore or any form of facial discharge or have a foodborne illness themselves. It is also food handlers' legal responsibility to prevent their hair, nails, jewellery or any plasters from contaminating food.


Do you need a food hygiene certificate to sell food?

Not all food businesses need a food hygiene certificate to sell food at present. However, food safety training must be evident in staff who handle food in retail, catering or manufacturing environments. Environmental health officers may ask to see proof of this.


Who needs to have a food hygiene certificate?

Not all food handlers are legally required to have a food hygiene certificate. However, EU Regulation 852/2004 states that food businesses have to ensure any staff who handle food are supervised properly and receive food hygiene training.


What is food law?

Food law states that all food handlers receive appropriate food safety and food hygiene training and supervision in the workplace. There are different codes of practice and regulations governing everything from food production and preparation to its packaging and distribution.


What is the Food Safety Act?

The Food Safety Act 1990 is the legal framework for all food legislation in Britain. It's designed to ensure that food handlers do not add anything to food or remove anything from it, or treat it in a way that could damage a person's health after consumption. It also states that the way food is sold, served, labelled and advertised meets the quality that customers expect.

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Food hygiene training questions

What is a basic food hygiene certificate?

The Level 2 Food Hygiene Course used to be known as the basic food hygiene certificate. Today, Level 1 is an introductory food safety course for people who are beginning to cook at home, while Level 3 is the qualification that food supervisors and managers need.


How can I get a food handler's certificate?

A food handler’s certificate can easily be achieved through an online training course in food hygiene..


How do I get a food hygiene certificate

You can obtain a food hygiene certificate easily through an online training course. A level 2 food hygiene certificate fits the legal requirement for food handlers, and often you can find courses that are specific for your line of work including catering, retail, manufacturing or drinks manufacturing.


How long is a basic food hygiene certificate valid for?

While food hygiene certificates do not technically run out, it is best practice to get them renewed every three years. Some employers require their staff to do this every year as part of their training, often as part of a food hygiene e-learning course..


Which food hygiene certificate do I need to open a cafe?

A level 2 food hygiene certificate is required to satisfy a food handler’s legal obligation for food safety training. However, if you are going to be responsible for other staff at your premises, you will need to ensure that you, or any supervisors are trained to level 3.


Which food hygiene certificate do I need to sell cakes from home?

Although the Level 1 Food Hygiene and Safety Certificate is aimed at home cooks, selling what you prepare is different. You will need to contact your local authority's environmental health service to arrange a safety and hygiene inspection at your property. Then, a Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate will be required to show that you know how to prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses by keeping your home and equipment hygienic.


What type of food hygiene certificate do I need?

The Level 2 Food Hygiene and Safety Certificate meets the legal obligations for food handlers, while managers and food supervisors need to undertake Level 3 food safety training. Level 1 is much more basic and is designed for people to use in their own homes. Different industries might require their food handlers to undergo specialist training too, and there are e-learning courses specifically for the catering, drinks, retail and manufacturing sectors.


When do I need to renew my food hygiene certificate?

While food hygiene certificates do not expire, it is recommended that you renew the qualification every three years to keep your knowledge up to date.


How long is a Level 2 food hygiene certificate valid for?

Food hygiene certificates do not expire, but some employers - such as the NHS - require them to be renewed every 12 months. However, it is recognised industry practice for them to be renewed every three years, so that food handlers can keep up to date with the latest legislation.


How can I get a food hygiene certificate?

Food hygiene certificates can easily be obtained via an online e-learning course. You'll find courses tailored specifically to different sectors like catering and retail, but the Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate fits the general legal requirements for food handlers. Test what you know already in our food hygiene quiz.

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