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Is a Food Hygiene Certificate Legally Required?

By Dean Laming on January 3rd, 2024

Operating popular restaurants relies first on outstanding menus and gracious service, but ensuring food safety represents an equally vital foundation. For restaurateurs unsure what documentation proves necessary to legally prepare and serve meals under UK laws, we break down exactly what certifications authorities mandate.

The Food Hygiene Landscape

In the UK, the main statute governing food practices and accountability is The Food Safety Act 1990, enforced by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and local councils. It decrees that handling or selling any food professionally requires comprehensive safety systems, to prevent contamination and illness.

Who Needs Certified Training?

For restaurants, cafes, mobile caterers and other dining establishments serving meals, hygiene training proves necessary. Staff interacting directly with ingredients must demonstrate adequate safety knowledge by completing approved training courses like:

  • Food Safety Level 1
  • CIEH Level 2 Award in Food Safety
  • Royal Society for Public Health Level 2 Award in Food Safety

Although it is not a legal requirement to complete a specific course or obtain a specific certificate, courses like the ones mentioned are commonly undertaken. These programmes educate on contamination prevention, pest control, allergen awareness, monitoring procedures and more so employees embed vital habits. 

Formal Hygiene Certification Requirements

Those producing food, like bakeries, manufacturers, packagers and distributors of food products, should obtain accredited Food Hygiene Certificates demonstrating comprehensive system adherence:

Level 3 Food Hygiene Certification

Recommended for food processing/production facilities before operating. It involves stringent facility audits, safety system reviews and multiple staff being trained/certified across production units with periodic renewal. This certification is important for supervisors and managers in food processing/production facilities, but there is no legal mandate for a specific Level 3 Food Hygiene Certificate. Instead, the law requires that managers and supervisors are suitably trained. 

HACCP Certification

Recommended for facilities packaging foods to guarantee safety across the entire supply chain. It certifies hazard analysis critical control points get monitored. Obtaining a formal HACCP certification is not a legal requirement, but applying the principles is mandatory.

There is no legal requirement in the UK to display food hygiene certificates publicly. However, food establishments are rated under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and the Food Hygiene Information Scheme in Scotland, and these ratings are often displayed.

Benefits Beyond Legal Necessity

All eateries can benefit from voluntarily pursuing credentials demonstrating safety commitment, even when not compelled by regulations. 

Boosting credibility with patrons by visibly meeting recognised authority standards — and even exceeding baseline requirements — enables positioning as premium providers committed to public health. Promoting robust safety systems likewise deters reputation-damaging lawsuits if isolated food poisoning incidents did occur.

Get Support from Brisco Business

Operating restaurants and hospitality establishments involves far more than just establishing menus and decor. At Brisco Business, we offer dedicated restaurant insurance tailored to the arrays of risks facing eateries. This spans key coverages like public liability insurance, alongside buildings and business interruption insurance.  

Get an obligation-free quote suited to your restaurant and tap into decades of food service expertise so you can thrive.

Dean Laming

Dean is a Chartered Insurance Broker with more than 25 years insurance experience. Through various underwriting, operational and management roles, Dean has built up extensive knowledge of how to run a business and is now Managing Director of Brisco Business, part of the wider Henry Seymour Group.

All articles by Dean Laming

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