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4. Food safety training

Food businesses must make sure that any staff who handle open food are instructed and/or trained in food hygiene in a way that is appropriate for the work they do. The person(s) responsible for developing and maintaining the business's procedures must have received adequate training to enable them to do this.

There is no legal requirement to attend a formal training course or obtain a qualification, although many businesses may want their staff to do so. The necessary skills could also be obtained in other ways, such as through on-the-job training, self-study or relevant prior experience. However, if during a food hygiene inspection food handlers are found to have inadequate food hygiene knowledge, the inspector will require them to receive instruction and/or training.

For people who handle open high risk foods, the CIEH ‘Level 2 Award in Food Safety in Catering course’ or equivalent is recommended.  It's important to keep records of any training undertaken, as you will be asked for this by the inspecting officers when they visit. If you do decide to undertake formal training, be careful to use a reputable company. It is recommended that training is refreshed every 3 years.

There are four different food hygiene training levels:

Level 1 – (formerly introductory/essentials) is aimed at those new to the workplace who require a simple overview of food hygiene before starting work or as part of an induction programme. This should include personal hygiene, temperature control, cleaning procedures and pest awareness. This training is usually done in house by management as part of an employee's induction.

Level 2 - (formerly basic/foundation) is the minimum requirement for those who prepare and handle open food or handle foods and have a supervisory role (e.g. chefs, cooks, kitchen assistants, home caterers or mobile catering businesses) This is a 1 day course with a short multiple choice exam at the end.

Level 3 - (formerly intermediate) is aimed at business owners and managers or supervisors of small and medium sized catering operations. It also satisfies the requirement for adequate training in HACCP based food safety management systems. This is a 3 day course with a multiple choice exam at the end.

Level 4 - (formerly advanced) is aimed at managers of larger catering premises or where complex food handling operations are carried on.  This is an intensive 5 day course with written exams at the end.

Find out about CIEH courses.  There are other accredited bodies that offer training such as the Royal Society of Health.

E-learning training is available for courses Levels 1 to 3.