Ensuring food is served safely, and maintaining high standards of hygiene is a legal requirement for all UK food businesses. Part of good food safety is ensuring staff are properly aware of hygiene procedures.
Whilst food hygiene certificates aren’t legally required, they are an efficient way to meet food safety law requirements.
Our guide looks at what the legal responsibilities of a food business are, how food hygiene certificates help meet them, and what type of certification you might need for your staff and premises.
Food Safety Law & Your Responsibilities as a Business
When you run a food business of any description, the laws around food safety should be understood by all the staff and built into procedures to serve or package food.
Food businesses are required to abide by the Food Safety Act 1990 whilst preparing and selling food to consumers.
Safe practises for serving food to meet food safety laws includes training staff on:-
- Preventing cross contamination.
- Cleaning procedures.
- Food storage temperatures.
- Safe cooking of food.
When you register your food business, and as part of maintaining your food hygiene rating, you will be inspected by an Environmental Health Officer. They will expect you to demonstrate good procedures and staff training in all elements of food safety as per the Safer Food Better Business guide.
Giving all staff structured food hygiene certification is an effective way to demonstrate your diligence to the EHO, and ensure food safety standards are upheld in your premises.
Having good food hygiene ratings goes a long way to building the establishment’s reputation with customers.
See Also: Due Diligence in Food Safety.
About Food Hygiene Certificates
Food hygiene certificates are the most effective way of ensuring all staff understand their responsibilities as food handlers.
Gaining the correct knowledge about food safety helps to keep consumers safe and maintains good food hygiene ratings for your business.
The type of food hygiene certificate your business need wills vary. It depends on the services offered and also the level of responsibility the staff have.
For example, a waiter would not need the same level of food safety training as the sous chef. There are training courses to suit all levels of food handling.
Do I Need a Hygiene Certificate?
Anyone that handles food within the establishment should have a food hygiene certificate. Although not a legal requirement, it is essential to have a sound knowledge of food safety laws.
The most reliable way of demonstrating this is by carrying out the appropriate food safety training. There are many different types of food safety certifications available.
Assigning the appropriate level to yourself and your staff will ensure you are complying with UK regulations. It also gives customers, who are using your services, peace of mind.
In a world of increasing allergies and food intolerances, allowing staff to learn about these important topics is wise. The best way of ensuring you are allergen compliant is by completing some food hygiene training.
How Do You Get a Food Hygiene Certificate?
The most efficient way of gaining your food safety certificate is by completing it online. This has the advantage of managing the course in your own time and at your own pace.
Online courses can suit those who do not wish to take time away from work to complete the training. It is beneficial for those with busy lifestyles or who get anxious about training events. Online courses still provide you with a certificate upon completion. This will then last for 3 years, at which point you should think about doing the course again.
You can also have in house training if you run a large business and need training for lots of staff. It can be more cost effective if you have a lot of employees.
How Long Does a Food Hygiene Certificate Last?
Although there are no official expiry dates on food hygiene certificates, they should be refreshed. UK food safety laws are constantly evolving and it is essential businesses are aware of any changes.
It is recommended that food businesses refresh their food hygiene training every 3 years. Any new members of staff should take part in a course as soon as possible. Refreshing food safety knowledge every 3 years helps keep everyone safe.
You cannot expect your knowledge of food safety laws to remain impeccable indefinitely. Having everyone regularly take part in food hygiene training is a good business decision.
Types of Certificates
The type of food hygiene certificate you will need for your staff will depend on the nature of your business. It may also be necessary for staff to do different levels of training based on their responsibilities around food handling.
Below are the levels of training you can receive and the benefits involved with each one.
Level 1 Hygiene Certificate
This is the most basic level of food hygiene training. It ensures staff are working to the highest possible standards. It also keeps the business compliant with all the relevant legislation.
The level 1 food hygiene course ensures workers have a sound knowledge of the relevant food laws. It keeps them aspiring to work to a high standard of cleanliness which, in turn, will keep customers safe.
This level of food hygiene is appropriate for anyone working indirectly with food and its preparation. This includes workers such as; supermarket staff, waiting staff, checkout staff, food delivery drivers, sweet shop staff and warehouse staff.
You can expect to cover a wide range of topics including; allergens, food hygiene laws, food safety hazards, the 4 C’s of cleaning, cross contamination risks and personal hygiene.
See Also: Hygiene Certificates to Sell Sweets.
The food hygiene training at level 2 is suitable for those working in the catering industry. This means anyone who is directly involved in the preparation and handling of food should complete level 2.
Those workers who would be eligible for this type of training course include; chefs, nursery staff, childminders, honey making businesses, churches, kitchen staff, cafe staff and bartenders. Anyone that handles food and serves food should be covered by this level of certification.
The level 2 courses cover a range of important topics regarding UK food laws and relevant legislation. Workers will also look at how the food hygiene rating scheme works, the responsibilities of the employers, all food hazards, allergen labelling laws, food storage, food preparation and the importance of cleaning.
- Childminder Hygiene Certificates.
- Do Churches Need Hygiene Certificates?
- Hygiene Certificate to Sell Honey.
Anyone who has a supervisory, management or head of staff role should consider doing level 3. This is the highest level of food hygiene training and is for anyone who takes full responsibility when it comes to food practices.
The level 3 food hygiene course is designed to help managers organise proper HACCP in the workplace procedures. It also covers the legal implications of failing to have good hygiene practices, including possible fines and closures.
Anyone who has their own food business such as a someone selling food from home, for example a cake business, should have a level 3 certification.
They have sole responsibility for the food that is bought and consumed from their premises. This means they have a legal obligation to ensure it is fit for purpose and contains no contamination risks.
You can expect to cover everything from the other levels in this course but with the perspective of being in charge. You will also focus on the different forms of contamination, causes and effects of food poisoning, temperature controls and implementation of HACCP.
Free Training For Food Handlers
It is possible to explore a few free options for food handlers. These may not be to the same standard as those that have been approved by CPD and other organisations.
They are, however, better than nothing and might be suitable for those with low risk jobs in the food industry. Anyone with a high degree of responsibility should be enrolled on an approved course at level 3.
The advantage of doing an online course is that you will receive a certificate at the end. This can then be displayed to customers and any visiting inspectors to see.
Having a valid food hygiene certificate gives everyone peace of mind. It helps to retain that professional reputation that food businesses depend on.