Food safety

Food hygiene certificate - All you need to know

A food hygiene certificate is awarded to qualified food handlers who have undergone training under an accredited body.  ...

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  • A food hygiene certificate is awarded to qualified food handlers who have undergone training under an accredited body. 
  • Although there is no law mandating the need for a food hygiene certificate, food business owners are required to provide an adequate amount of food safety training to their employees.
  • A food hygiene certificate program has 4 different levels and varies depending on the intended role of the trainee.

Food safety hazards are a constant threat to food businesses. These hazards linger around every corner of your kitchen and service area. The newest survey from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) revealed that at least 2.4 million cases of foodborne illnesses occur in the UK every year. Without a proper and broad understanding of food safety and handling practices, these food safety hazards can freely multiply and transfer from one point to another.

This scenario can cause a widespread foodborne illness outbreak which is a nightmare for food business operators. To ensure that food handlers are equipped with the necessary knowledge on handling foods, at least one food hygiene certificate holder should be present in your team to monitor operations and share the food hygiene information with the rest.

While there is no absolute need to obtain a food hygiene certificate in the UK, it is required by the law for food handlers to have adequate supervision and training on proper food hygiene regulations. The training they must have should relate to the level of operation they will be assigned within your food business. Having a food hygiene certificate is proof of your absolute commitment to a solid approach to food safety and protecting public health. 

Learn more about the ins and outs of getting a food hygiene certificate that can help you achieve a 5-star food hygiene rating.


food hygiene certificate is important


What is a food hygiene certificate?

A food hygiene certificate is an official document recognized by significant food authorities given to food handlers that have passed an evaluation for having an adequate amount of food hygiene training. Although not mandated for food employees, having a certificate plays advantageously for both the employee and the employer. This certificate is a validation of a food handler's knowledge and capabilities to handle and prepare food in the most hygienic way to prevent the occurrence of foodborne illnesses. 

Under a certification programme, a food handler will go through a series of training modules to refresh their knowledge and undergo an examination as a part of their food training requirements. This process is a mandate for food safety managers and food business owners, whereas it is just an added programme for other food handlers. 

This food hygiene certificate can be achieved in different ways. On-site and online food hygiene courses are widely available and offered by accredited food companies. These programmes give essential lesson material for different food hygiene training levels and aim to teach how to maintain food safety in a working environment. 


How to get a food hygiene certificate UK? 

After knowing what a food hygiene certificate is, the next question you might have is "How do I get a food hygiene certificate?" To get a food hygiene certificate, you must select from a wide range of food hygiene certification programmes, complete a certain level of training and pass the exam. Once a representative fulfills these steps, the food handler will be awarded a food health and hygiene certificate.

Depending on your chosen level of training, the module and course difficulties and content can vary. Generally, learners are expected to learn about key food safety issues, types of hazards, methods of controlling them and the most efficient way to monitor food safety compliance. In more advanced training levels, food handlers are taught food safety management strategies and how to integrate them into a food business.

Some food hygiene certification programmes, especially online food hygiene courses, are self-paced. This means that the programmes can be paused and continued at the convenience of the learner. 


How much is a food hygiene certificate?

The cost of a food hygiene certificate would depend on the level and extensiveness of the programme. It can range from as low as £10 up to £200 plus additional VAT per person. The prices on these food hygiene certification programmes can go lower for group or bulk purchases. Additionally, some certificate providers offer in-house training where they bring the training session to your company. This type of food hygiene certification system would cost more since you are expected to allow a big group to attend the training and can start at £500 plus VAT. 


How long does a food hygiene certificate last?

Generally, a food hygiene certificate does not expire nor is there a legal requirement for food handlers to renew their certificate at any point in time. Despite this, food safety authorities recommend taking refresher courses and training programmes at least once every three years. While the standard for renewing food hygiene certification is the prerogative of a food company management team, it has been industry practice to undergo renewal every three years.

The basis for this recommendation is the speed at which updates become available for food industry practices and the rate of food safety innovation implementations. For food establishments serving high-risk products, the renewal rate can become every year. 

Failure to renew a food hygiene certificate does not have any immediate legal consequence. Despite this, there can be indirect effects to both an employer and a food handler. In the case of employers, should a food safety issue occur and a customer complains, it would negatively affect your stance if your food handlers have an outdated food hygiene certificate.  Additionally, a food hygiene certificate plays to your advantage as a food business owner in case of a food hygiene audit. 

On the other hand, failure to renew a health and hygiene certificate can mean that the skills of a food handler are outdated. In the case of seeking employment, an updated food hygiene certificate will be more favored than an outdated certificate. Renewing your certificate can be done through an online certification programme and at the convenience of your place.


food hygiene certificate for serving food


Levels of food hygiene certificate

Food hygiene training courses emphasize the need for proper food hygiene and orient participants to the necessary practices to maintain hygienic conditions. Upon completion, awarding bodies provide a food hygiene certificate to qualified participants.

In the United Kingdom, food hygiene certificates are handed out to individuals that have undergone evaluation by a competent authority. Food hygiene certificates serve as additional proof of your commitment to food safety. Your team must also be able to prove that they have a sufficient understanding and adequate skills in food hygiene practices.

These pieces of training vary in levels and range from level 1 to 4 depending on the degree of difficulty of the training. 

Level 1 food hygiene certificate

This level of food hygiene certification programme is an introductory course. It includes an introduction to food safety and training on basic food safety principles for employees who serve food directly to the customers. It also includes hygienic practices dedicated to waiters, porters, bar staff, and food delivery drivers. It introduces basic food safety and hygiene laws relative to the trainees' job tasks.


Level 2 food hygiene certificate

This food hygiene training is for cooks, baristas, sous chefs, and others who directly handle and package food. Most level 2 food hygiene certification courses are divided into three different sectors:

  • Catering
  • Retail
  • Manufacturing

This training discusses any relevant food law, food hygiene legislation, food handling practices, explanation of food hygiene, and orientation to food hazards. It aims to equip food handlers with the necessary skills to satisfy the basic requirements of Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 which revolves around hygiene practices of food workers. Accredited food agencies give training courses for the specific industry you are in. As an example, a Level 2 food safety and hygiene for catering certificate would have particular topics on food legislation in catering.


Level 3 food hygiene certificate

This intermediate food hygiene certificate programme is for supervisory-level food operators with any admin role. These individuals have the power to delegate tasks and need advanced knowledge of food hygiene. Strategies to mitigate hazards are additionally taught at this level including essentials of food hygiene and handling practices. Food safety authorities recommend that at least one level 3-certified food handler is present for every operation. 

This type of food hygiene certification programme includes lessons on how to effectively control food safety hazards while maintaining a strict food hygiene standard. 


Level 4 food hygiene certificate

Seldomly offered, this programme is for advanced-level food handlers who handle tasks such as the implementation of a HACCP food safety management plan and have a supervisory role. This level includes more technical information on food safety hazards and principles of controlling them.

Most programmes offered for a level 4 food hygiene training are a combination of online and on-site training. This certification programme is not recommended to be taken purely online as actual demonstrations and critical discussions are part of the programme. In a level 4 food hygiene certificate system, a participant will be able to learn about the following:

  • Refresher and advanced food safety hazard analysis and management
  • Food hygiene practices
  • Facility and equipment design
  • Cleaning and sanitation
  • Food safety management procedures and HACCP training
  • Food standards legislation and implementation
  • Guidance for food business


Food Safety Management System


What level of food hygiene certificate do I need?

The level of food hygiene certificate that will benefit you the most depends on your role in the food supply chain. If you intend to serve the food yourself such as in a catering service, you are recommended to at least have a minimum food hygiene certificate Level 2. If you are seeking employment for a restaurant waiter, pub attendant, and other frontline foodservice workforce, a Level 1 food hygiene certification would suffice. 


Who needs food hygiene certification?

Ideally, all food handlers from the frontline services up to the management team are recommended to have a food hygiene certification. This document does not only prove the company's commitment to food safety and hygiene, but also the adequacy of the food handler's knowledge in keeping food safe.

At a minimum, food handlers are mandated to be trained in food hygiene operations that are involved in their daily operations by the EC Regulation 852Everyone must know the basics when it comes to handling food hygienically before being hired and starting to work. Food hygiene training does not necessarily require a certification. This can be achieved through in-house training or previous experience. Although, a certificate would be more meritable for food safety auditors and customers.


Do I need a food hygiene certificate to sell sweets?

So, let's assume that you are planning to set up a sweets shop in the UK and you do not know whether you are required to have a food hygiene certificate. Technically, you are not required to have a food hygiene certificate to gain food business approval but you are required to have a food safety management system in place to prevent food safety issues. In addition, you will also need evidence of food hygiene training for your staff and that they have received adequate training and orientation on the significance of food safety.

Generally, food establishments are encouraged to at least have training equivalent to level 2 for food hygiene. Additionally, supervisors must at least have level 3 expertise in managing food hygiene and safety. Training can come from online tools, on-the-job training, or even from past experiences wherein sometimes there are no certificates.


food and hygiene certificate in the kitchen


What certificate is mandatory for you?

The food hygiene regulations of the UK do not require any food handler to have any type of food hygiene certificate. This applies to both food handlers and food sellers. In food businesses such as catering, what regulations emphasize is the need for food handlers to receive hygiene awareness instruction from a qualified team member.

At most, food handlers who are operating with high-risk foods must have Level 2 food hygiene training. In addition, food safety managers and supervisors have Level 3 food hygiene training. These hygiene training programs do not need to come with a certificate but must be acquired from an accredited body or legitimate source to ensure the quality of the food hygiene knowledge. 


What certificate is mandatory for selling food?

While there is no mandatory food hygiene certificate regulation, food handlers from different levels of the food business are recommended to have a particular food hygiene certificate. Across the entire union, food hygiene certificate UK tends to be similar. Although food hygiene certification institutions are available, general certification bodies could be recognized throughout the UK. Food hygiene certificate Scotland is equal to that in other countries of the UK.

Food handlers who are planning on selling prepacked foods or those that do not have direct contact during the preparation of the food are recommended to have a Level 1 food hygiene certificate. This level promotes awareness and basic knowledge of food and personal hygiene.

If you intend to prepare and sell the products yourself, you may need to obtain a Level 2 food hygiene certificate. Additionally, if you are the owner of food safety manager of a food business, you may need to get a Level 3 food hygiene certificate.


FoodDocs can help you maintain high food hygiene standards

Achieving a food hygiene certificate guarantees your customers that your team works in the most hygienic way possible. Securing a high-level certificate for the food safety manager even makes the team's approach to food safety more dependable. This certificate ensures that your employees are well equipped with the correct information about food hygiene practices. Despite this, human behavior tends to limit the efficiency of all this learning. Constant monitoring is required to ensure that the knowledge from food safety and hygiene training is continuously and correctly applied.

At FoodDocs, we offer a software system that reduces error from human limitations and increases the efficiency and effectiveness of food safety training. Put your food hygiene certificate into good use and unlock its maximum potential using our digital Food Safety Management System (FSMS). Using artificial intelligence, our system automatically generates a comprehensive and customizable digital FSMS built specifically based on your operations. 

The whole process takes an average of 15 minutes for our system to help you create a digital FSMS. All you have to do is to answer a few basic questions about your operations and our system does the rest. 

When you sign up with us at FoodDocs and avail of our digital FSMS services, you get the following benefits:

  • Automatically generated monitoring forms based on your daily operations. Save your employees' time by setting these digital monitoring forms to auto-fill and have them automatically filled based on previously entered data.
  • Never miss a food safety and hygiene task with smart notifications using our mobile app. This feature reminds food handlers of any daily task on time.
  • Review your daily food safety operations using a real-time dashboard that shows your progress across your food store locations.
  • Store and organize all your digital documents in cloud storage where you can access everything easily while saving on physical space.
  • Scan and file your food hygiene certificate into your digital cloud space and set a reminder to notify your team whenever the certificate needs to be renewed. This feature can also be applied for food hygiene training refreshers and even audit schedules.
  • Get efficient team management tools that can help you assign tasks and allow employees to focus on their specific tasks.

Our system considers local and international food safety regulations and incorporates the most significant ones based on your location. We understand how your food business may have unique operations. Our digital FSMS monitoring forms can be further customized so you can tailor them to fit your business operations perfectly. 

Save up to 20% time on managing your food safety tasks using our system. Get more time to focus on your business operations and increase your sales every day. With our digital FSMS, you can rest easy that your employee's training in food hygiene is put to good use.

Ensure your everyday compliance with food safety regulations by joining us. You can get a free, 14-day trial to kick off the process and get your digital FSMS. 



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