The Food Hygiene Certificate, Who Is It Designed to Protect?

The Food Hygiene Certificate or the Level 2 Award in Food Safety in Catering as called by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health is a training course specified for all food handlers in the UK on a recommended three year cycle basis.

Such a course many years ago was unheard of as it was taken for granted that anyone who worked with food had a natural understanding of what a food hazard was and how to avoid it, but times have changed.

In years gone by foods were brought into the kitchen fresh from the fields or direct from the butchers to be prepared and served often within hours or certainly days from receipt.
But in these more modern times foods are taken away to be processed, washed, packaged, labelled, frozen, chilled, irradiated, sterilised, pasteurised the list of handling practices and places of production around the world are almost endless.

Foods of today when they finally arrive in our kitchens may be weeks or even months old and may have been touched within the system of process by hands innumerable, with hygiene control practices of a standard of which we will never know.

Studying for a Food Hygiene Certificate or Food Safety Award you will learn how the dangers of contamination by toxins emitted from dangerous bacteria increase significantly with time and so the longer our foods have been in circulation the greater the threat to the ultimate consumer.

“Yes but they have been properly processed” we hear you say and in the vast majority of cases your claims will be true but how many times have you found a badly sealed film pack, a dented can, a blown carton or simply a fleck of mould on the cheese, a scuff of dirt on the meat or a soft packet of frozen goods?

These are the signs you can see, but pathogenic bacteria are colourless and odourless to the naked eye and nose so what is also on the product that your senses are not able to detect?

This is why in these modern times of food handling it is essential that handlers are taught the correct procedures to adopt when working with foods.
Early detection, eliminating cross contamination and holding foods out of the “Danger Zone” are but a few of the core skills necessary in the food cycle to ensure safe food production.

As a food handler you have a duty of care to your customers and if your foods become injurious to health then it is you that has to answer to the law.
Your employer will also be drawn under scrutiny, why wasn’t your training and knowledge up to the required standards?
Plus also of course it is the poor consumer of your foods that has been struck down by stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea or maybe worse. It is they that lost money at work or failed to attend that all important interview that was destined to lift them out from the poverty trap.

So your Food Hygiene training will not only protect you poor customer.
Indeed it will not only protect your employer from prosecution for your substandard actions.
But it will also protect you, the food handler, by giving you the knowledge to handle your foods properly thus releasing you from the shadow of fines up to £20,000 or even prison sentences of 6 months for comparatively minor offences.

So who by definition is a food handler?

If you provide foods to anyone in a “Non Family” environment then you are a food handler by definition under the laws of the UK and EC.
Chefs, cooks, waitresses, waiters, vending operators, cakes shop counter staff, childminders, farm shop counter workers the list is quite extensive you are also included if you are giving foods for free, working for charity or serving foods at a none family children’s party.

So who is the Food Hygiene Certificate designed to protect?

Hobson Tarrant