food safety training in the UK

Training for food handlers in the UK

food safetyFood business operators are required by law, to ensure that food handlers receive appropriate supervision and instruction/training in food hygiene in line with their work activity and should enable them to handle food safely.

If you are responsible for developing and maintaining a business’s food safety management procedures, you must have received adequate training to enable you to do this.

Check with your local authority if they provide a formal training course. Alternatively, you can find out more about suitable courses from your local authority, local library, further education college or contact one of the awarding bodies for food safety. You can find details about awarding bodies on the internet. – See more at:

In the UK, food handlers don’t have to hold a food hygiene certificate to prepare or sell food, although many food businesses will prefer that they do. The necessary skills may be obtained through on-the-job training, self-study or relevant prior experience. UK food hygiene certificates don’t have an expiry date. It is left to the discretion of the food business operator or environmental health officer to decide whether a refresher course is needed. This may be a result of changes to legislation or technological developments in food hygiene.

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What is food borne disease

Food safety training in the UKFood borne is an illness cause by contaminated food, pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites that contaminate food, as well as chemical or natural toxins such as poisonous mushrooms and various species of beans that have not been boiled for at least 10 minutes.

Symptoms vary depending on the cause. A few wide generalizations can be made, e.g.: The incubation period ranges from hours to days, depending on the cause and on how much was consumed.

The incubation period tends to cause sufferers to not associate the symptoms with the item consumed, and so to cause sufferers to attribute the symptoms to gastroenteritis for example. Symptoms often include vomiting, fever, and aches, and may include diarrhea. Bouts of vomiting can be repeated with an extended delay in between, because even if infected food was eliminated from the stomach in the first bout, microbes (if applicable) can pass through the stomach into the intestine via cells lining the intestinal walls and begin to multiply. Some types of microbes stay in the intestine, some produce a toxin that is absorbed into the bloodstream, and some can directly invade deeper body tissues.


Foodborne illness more often than not arises from improper handling, preparation, or food storage. Good hygiene habit before, during, and after food preparation can minimise the chances of contracting an illness. There is a consultation in the public health community that regular hand-washing is one of the most effective defenses against the spread of foodborne illness. The action of monitoring food to ensure that it will not cause foodborne illness is known as food safety. Foodborne disease can also be caused by a huge variety of toxins that have an effect on the environment. Foodborne illness can also be caused by pesticides or medicines in food and naturally toxic substances such as poisonous mushrooms or reef fish.


Bacteria are a frequent cause of foodborne illness. In the United Kingdom during 2000, the individual bacteria involved were the following: Campylobacter jejuni 77.3%, Salmonella 20.9%, Escherichia coli O157:H7 1.4%, and all others less than 0.56%. Toxins from bacterial infections are delayed because the bacteria need time to multiply. In the past, bacterial infections were thought to be more prevalent because few places had the capability to test for norovirus and no active surveillance was being done for this particular agent.

As a result symptoms associated with intoxication are usually not seen until 12–72 hours or more after eating contaminated food. Usually the symptoms are seen the day after the food has been ingested and digested completely. However if the intoxication involves preformed toxins as is the case with Staphylococcal food poisoning, the symptoms appear within a few hours.


In postwar Aberdeen (1964) a large-scale (400 cases) outbreak of typhoid occurred, caused by contaminated corned beef which had been imported from Argentina. The corned beef was placed in cans and because the cooling plant had failed, cold river water from the Plate estuary was used to cool the cans. One of the cans had a defect and the meat inside was contaminated. This meat was then sliced using a meat slicer in a shop in Aberdeen, and a lack of cleaning the machinery led to spreading the contamination to other meats cut in the slicer. These meats were then eaten by the people of Aberdeen who then became ill.

Outbreaks of foodborne illness since the 1970s prompted key changes in UK food safety law. These included the death of 19 patients in the Stanley Royd Hospital outbreak  and the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, mad cow disease) outbreak identified in the 1980s. The death of 17 people in the 1996 Wishaw outbreak of E. coli O157  was a precursor to the establishment of the Food Standards Agency which, according to Tony Blair in the 1998 white paper A Force for Change Cm 3830, “would be powerful, open and dedicated to the interests of consumers”.

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Laws state that food handlers must make sure that food which is prepared

Laws state that food handlers must make sure that food which is prepared Online UK trainingThe most necessary food hygiene regulations for your business are:

Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs.

These settle out the basic hygiene requirements for all aspects of your business, from your

premises and facilities to the personal hygiene of your staff.


One of the key requirements of the law is that you must be able to show what you do to make or sell food that is safe to eat and have this written down. Details of these food safety management procedures are described below.


Management procedures for food safety


You must follow ‘food safety management procedures’ based on the principles of HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control point). You must also:


Keep up-to-date documents and records relating to your procedures


Review your procedures if you change what you produce  or how you work


This means that you must have procedures prepared to manage food safety ‘hazards’ in your business. You must write these procedures down, update them as needed and keep records that can be checked by your local authority.


The regulations are intended to be flexible, so these procedures can be in proportion to the size of your business and the type of work you do. This means that many small businesses will have very simple procedures and records.


If you handle both raw and ready-to-eat food you may need to consider extra procedures to control harmful bacteria.


HACCP is a way of managing food safety. It is based on putting in place procedures to control hazards. It involves:


Focusing closely at what you do in your business and what could go wrong.


Determine the ‘dangerous control points’ – these are the places you need to focus on to avoid hazards or minimise them to an acceptable level.


Putting in place procedures to make sure hazards are controlled at your critical control points.


Deciding what action you need to take if something goes wrong.


Ensure that your procedures are working.


Keeping accurate records to show your procedures  are working.


Most of the people think that HACCP is very complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. The vital thing is to have food safety management procedures that are appropriate for your

business. Remember that there are packs produced by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that can help you put these procedures in place.


A hazard is something that could be unsafe. And there are a number of different hazards. When we are talking about hazards in relation to food, a hazard is something that could mean that food will not be safe to eat. Food safety hazards can be:


Chemical – involving chemicals getting into food, e.g. cleaning products or pest control chemicals


Microbiological – involving harmful bacteria, e.g. when  certain food is kept out of the fridge for too long and bacteria grow in it


Physical – involving objects getting into food, e.g. broken glass or pieces of packaging


Hazards can happen at any stage in your business – from taking deliveries to serving customers.

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