February 02, 2017
What food hygiene certificate do my staff need?
Whether you’re thinking of starting a food business from home, or already own an established food outlet - it’s absolutely vital to understand what hygiene training food handlers are required to have by law.
So, what type of training must food handlers receive by law? The main pieces of food hygiene legislation that you must comply with as a food business owner are the Regulation (EC) 852/2004 of the European Parliament on the Hygiene of Foodstuffs, the Food Safety Act 1990 and Food Hygiene (England Regulations) 2005. In short, these pieces of legislation state that anyone handling food must be appropriately supervised, as well as receive relevant instruction and/or training in food hygiene and safety. It is also stated that whoever is responsible for maintaining food hygiene procedure needs HACCP training. These standards apply to anyone working with food in the hospitality or retail sectors.
Who is a food handler?
A food handler is anyone who directly engages with food, so even if your staff handle food in a retail capacity (e.g. greengrocers), they still must meet these standards. Staff members who are responsible for the cleaning of surfaces that come into contact with food also technically count as food handlers, so their knowledge must also meet the requirements outlined by the law.
There’s plenty of reasons to take meeting compliance standards seriously:
- A 2015 report from The World Health Organisation states that 1 in 10 people worldwide fall ill from contaminated food each year.
- According to the Food Standards Agency, this equates to 5.5 million people in the UK.
- An FSA report on public attitudes found nearly 40% of diners were concerned about food hygiene when eating out.
- More than 50% of raw chicken contains the campylobacter bacteria, which causes more illness than salmonella in Britain.
- The average kitchen chopping board has around 200% more faecal bacteria on it than the average toilet seat.
The penalties for having untrained staff preparing food served to the public can be severe. In 2016 the owner of an Indian restaurant was jailed for six years after one of his customers with a peanut allergy died from consuming one of his curries, which contained undeclared peanuts. It was revealed in court that Mohammed Zaman was cutting costs by using a cheaper groundnut mix in curries and employing untrained staff.
Likewise, in 2016 a Chinese restaurant in the centre of Birmingham was fined £7,000 for a series of food safety and hygiene violations. This included dirty conditions in the kitchen with untrained employees handling and preparing food. The restaurant also had no food safety management system - like HACCP - in place.
The responsibility for ensuring all staff are food hygiene compliant lies with the owner of the business. So, for example, if you were to open your own café it is up to you to check that each of your food-handling employees are given instruction or training appropriate for your business.
Is a food safety and hygiene certificate compulsory?
Food hygiene training, whether online or face-to-face, is not required by law. However, it is a very quick way to demonstrate compliance and show food hygiene inspectors that you have fulfilled expectations of you as the owner of the business. This can help you achieve the best possible hygiene rating, which can be displayed in your premises and is available to consumers via the FSA website.
The consequences of failing a hygiene inspection can be dire for your business, so it’s wise to ensure you do everything possible to go above and beyond when it comes to food safety and hygiene.
2016 saw multiple cases brought forward of food outlets being fined for failing to give their staff adequate hygiene training. But what type of course meets the expectations set out by law?
Across the food and drink industry, online training is an extremely popular channel for training staff - with Level 2 Food Hygiene and Safety being the favoured module for training food handlers. This course is available for the hospitality, retail and manufacturing sectors through Appetite Learning - all 3 courses come accredited by City & Guilds and certified by CPD.
Aside from City & Guilds, other accrediting bodies accepted by an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) include the CIEH (Chartered Institute of Environmental Health), Qualifi, RSPH and EDI.
Depending on their job roles, different members of staff require different levels of food safety and hygiene certification (although remember that, as stated above, this is not mandatory). The below provides some examples to give you an idea, but does not list all job roles, so always check via the Food Standards Agency if in doubt.
Roles requiring Level 1 Food Safety and Hygiene training:
Level 1 is not suitable for those directly handling food, but is recommended for those working in a food business who wish to improve their hygiene knowledge including kitchen porters, bar workers, delivery drivers and waiters.
Roles requiring Level 2 Food Safety and Hygiene training:
Level 2 Food Safety & Hygiene is the minimum level of training suggested for food handlers such as chefs, sandwich makers, cafe workers, kitchen staff in schools or anybody else who comes into direct contact with food.
Roles requiring Level 3 Food Safety and Hygiene training:
Those in supervisory and technical roles require Level 3 Food Safety and Hygiene. This includes supervisory staff, managers, team leaders, small business owners and anyone responsible for implementing food safety management (HACCP).
Once online training has been completed, there is no expiry date on the certificate food handlers receive. However, it is generally considered good practice to take a course every 3 years so that your workforce can refresh their knowledge of the best food safety and hygiene practices. Each time you employ a new member of staff they should also complete a Level 2 course, preferably before they start working directly with food.
Get your workforce compliant today!
Appetite Learning’s Level 2 Food Safety and Hygiene courses have been especially tailored for the hospitality, retail and manufacturing sectors. If you require more than 20 courses, call us on 01293 610473 or send us a contact form and we’ll call you back as soon as we can.