Anyone running a business in the food industry will know the importance of the food hygiene certificate, and those working in the industry will also know that they might often be asked to present their own certificate of proof of their knowledge and competence of accepted food hygiene standards.
Getting it wrong can lead to devastating consequences for anyone falling ill as a result of bad practice or neglect, and the UK Food Standards Agency believes there are in the region of half a million food poisoning cases each year in the UK, as a result of poor practice or hygiene.
So what is involved with the certificates, and how can you ensure employees have adequate training in place?
Food hygiene certificates
There are lots of companies willing to give certificates out at the end of ‘training’ courses, but for them to count, the training must have been accredited by an appropriate governing body. Anyone working in the food industry can benefit from having the knowledge that comes from an accredited programme, and whilst it’s not mandatory for people selling food to hold a certificate, many employers prefer that they do.
Training should be updated every three years to ensure knowledge is current, and to remind you of things you might have forgotten.
For example, as a dishwasher can heat water to far higher temperatures than hands could stand, it is generally accepted that dishwashers are more effective at killing bacteria. Commercial kitchens typically use professional dishwashing equipment, such as the undercounter dishwashers available from 24-7 Catering Supplies (https://www.247cateringsupplies.co.uk/commercial-warewashers/commercial-dish-washers/undercounter-dishwashers), and food hygiene training will typically cover the correct use of such machines.
What is entailed
Specific training is available for food handlers, now called the Level 2 Food Safety & Hygiene for Catering, which is taught at GCSE level. It’s aimed at those working with food, or those supervising people working with food. The certificate is available at many colleges or independent training providers, and even some online providers now.
The certificate is relevant at induction, or as ongoing and refresher training. It covers subjects like temperatures required to store food, the temperature required to sanitise equipment, and information on some common food hygiene issues and how to deal with them. It will also cover cleaning and contamination.