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Last updated: 03.08.17

Food legislation requirements: Everything you need to know

Those working with food hygiene must be aware of the legislation requirements so that they operate in the safest way. Here we take a look at what you need to know.

Why does the Food industry need legislation?

The food industry is a great sector to work in. In 2016 in the UK alone, £20.1 billion was generated from food and drink exports, while citizens spent a total of £203 billion on food, drink and catering. However, the food industry wouldn’t be so popular if it wasn’t for the high standards it maintains among its employees.

Why do I need training?

By law, food business operators must ensure that food handlers receive the appropriate supervision and training in food hygiene, which is in-line with the area they work in and will enable them to handle food in the safest way. If you’re a manager who is responsible for developing and maintaining a business’ food safety management procedures, you must have the training required to do this.

What training is legally required?

Any food handler in catering, manufacturing and retail must be supervised and trained in food hygiene and safety under Regulation (EC) 178/2002, the Food Safety Act 1990 and the Food Hygiene Regulations 2006.

Usually, training here includes the awareness of how to avoid food hazards and contamination, controlling food temperature, and how to keep staff and premises hygienic. By completing online food hygiene training, you will be complying with the law and be deemed fit to work safely.

Where can I find online training?

By visiting the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website, users will be able to find online training on food allergy, vacuum packing and food labelling requirements. A 'Safer food, better business' food safety management system can also be found here.

Alternatively, you can opt to train with a learning provider like Virtual College. Since we launched our online food hygiene training in July, we have trained over 90,000 food handlers. On successful completion of the course, we will post out a high-quality certificate, which can be shown to the Environmental Health Officer as evidence of training.

Do I require a food hygiene certificate?

While it is not necessary for food handlers to have a food hygiene certificate, having one is general industry etiquette and most businesses prefer that you do. In an industry that is becoming ever-more competitive, having a certificate like this can provide you with an advantage.

In addition to this, UK food hygiene certificates don’t have an expiry date but are usually updated every three or so years to keep up with industry trends, technological advancement and changes in laws. However, it is left to the discretion of the food business operator or environmental health officer to decide whether a refresher course is needed. Employers, such as the NHS, require certificates to be renewed every year.

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