Food hygiene has become an important topic for food safety regularly discussed by consumers and producers, particularly in the United Kingdom (UK).

As food handlers, we know how eager you are to learn about all these food hygiene certificates and food hygiene training for your businesses.

This article explains the different food hygiene certificates, identifies who needs to qualify for each level, and enumerates the respective course contents of all food hygiene courses.

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What is a Food Hygiene Certificate?

Food hygiene is an umbrella term for fundamental processes and conditions used to PREVENT health risks and fitness issues in individuals caused by the intake of food made with poor hygiene practices.

A food hygiene certificate is given to food handlers who have completed a food hygiene training course. This is a legal requirement in the UK.

You cannot operate without this certificate because an environmental health officer will conduct routine inspections (and impose ratings) that will look into the following aspects:

  • Ensuring that every food handler has a food hygiene certificate
  • Checking the personal hygiene of those who have direct contact with food.
  • Ensuring that the workplace observes the EC No. 852 of the European Parliament and the Council on Hygiene of Foodstuffs
  • Guaranteeing that the stages of production, food processing, preparation, and distribution conform to hygiene regulations

When food sanitation knowledge and food safety management are observed, it can result in benefits, such as the following:

  • Preventing food contamination
  • Preventing food poisoning
  • Promoting food safety for food businesses
  • Promoting longer shelf life
  • Increasing food hygiene ratings

Food Hygiene Certificate Level 1: Food Safety Awareness

The certificates in food hygiene have three levels, depending on the extent of knowledge of food hygiene and safety that are needed.

These are issued by Continuing Professional Development (CPD) accredited training groups.

The level of food hygiene safety courses you are required to take depends on your participation in food preparation.

The certificate levels start with Level 1, which deals with food safety awareness.

What Is Level 1 Food Hygiene?

The Level 1 certificate of food hygiene courses presents knowledge of the essentials or the foundation for understanding food sanitation and identifying the hazards in handling food.

Course contents

  • Cross-contamination (e.g., bacteria and pest control)
  • Food hygiene standards in processing areas
  • Understanding food poisoning to deliver food safely
  • Understanding food safety issues and food storage
  • Importance of personal hygiene
  • Temperature control
  • Waste disposal

Who needs a Level 1 Food Hygiene Certificate?

Doing a course and getting the CPD-accredited Level 1 food hygiene certificate is a requirement for:

  • Persons dealing with already prepared food (wrapped food)
  • Persons who do NOT directly prepare and cook food

Specifically, Level 1 is essential for the following:

  • Kitchen caretakers
  • Storage place staff
  • Waiting staff members

Do you need a Level 1 Food Hygiene Certificate before Level 2?

No, you do not need to attend a Level 1 food hygiene course and/or obtain a certificate before getting a Level 2 certification, because there are no prerequisite certificates for the latter. This rule also applies to other levels.

The varying levels simply imply how BASIC or ADVANCED your food safety training must be according to your connection with handling food.

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Food Hygiene Certificate Level 2: Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering

Next in the line of CPD-accredited certificates is the Level 2 course. This level teaches food workers in the catering industry about the specifics of food hygiene and safety.

What Is Level 2 Food Hygiene?

Level 2, or the catering course, is the right course for those who work in the catering industry, particularly those who prepare, cook, serve, and sell food.

Course contents

  • All Level 1 training course contents
  • Cleaning and disinfecting procedures
  • Cross-contamination protection, bacteria, and pest control
  • Equipment hygiene
  • Food safety management
  • Food safety procedures
  • Importance of food storage and temperature control
  • Food-related laws and other legal responsibilities
  • Hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP)

Who needs a Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate?

If your job description is covered under the following conditions, then you need a Level 2 certificate:

  • Persons who work directly in preparing, cooking, and serving food in a catering environment
  • Persons who supervise and manage the individuals who produce, cook, and serve food directly

Specific examples of these people include the following:

  • Catering staff members
  • Cooks
  • Chefs (industry experts)
  • Nursery kitchen staff
  • Purchase managers
  • Restaurant bartenders
  • Support staff

Food Hygiene Certificate Level 3: Food Safety Supervision for Catering, Retail, and Manufacturing

Of the three food hygiene courses, Level 3 is the one that deals with teaching food business operators or direct supervisors of food handlers in the food industry everything they need to know regarding food hygiene.

What is Level 3 Food Hygiene?

The Level 3 certificate is positioned as a food hygiene course for individuals in charge of the overall food business.

These people are OBLIGED to observe food safety management and comply with food hygiene regulations based on EC No. 852.

Course contents

  • All the content from the Level 1 basic training course and Level 2 catering course
  • Equipment used for food safety management
  • Food laws and regulations
  • Food safety management and HACCP
  • Food safety monitoring and protocols
  • Microbiology training course
  • Principles in achieving a 5-star hygiene rating
  • Workplace setup

Who needs a Level 3 Food Hygiene Certificate?

Each job role listed below needs to take Level 3 food hygiene training and certification:

  • Executive chefs
  • Food business operators
  • Food safety management supervisors
  • Food safety procedures supervisors
  • Head chefs
  • Senior bar and café managers
  • Senior catering managers
  • Senior hotel managers
  • Senior staff training managers

What is the difference between Level 2 and Level 3 Food Hygiene?

The difference between Level 2 and Level 3 is that the former is designed to teach workers who have DIRECT CONTACT with food.

On the other hand, the latter is created to help individuals who supervise and manage the workers dealing directly with food.

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Frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some of your most frequently asked questions:

Is an online food hygiene certificate valid?

Yes, online food hygiene courses are valid and recognised in the UK. However, to continuously advance knowledge, taking a food hygiene and safety refresher training course every three years is essential.

How much does a food hygiene certificate cost in the UK?

A food hygiene training certificate in the UK entails costs ranging from £10 to £100, depending on who offers the food safety courses and the levels you want to reach.

Here are the average food hygiene and safety certificate costs:

  • Level 1 averages – £12
  • Level 2 averages – £20
  • Level 3 averages – £100

How long does a food hygiene course take?

In order to work effectively with food safety as a priority, you must complete the courses, which are approximately 2 to 10 hours long.

Is there a Level 4 Food Hygiene?

Yes, a Level 4 training certificate is available for those in charge of food safety management. However, this food safety course is not suitable for an online setup.

How long does a food hygiene certificate last?

The certificates from all levels do not necessarily expire, but you MUST take refresher training every three years to pursue modern ideas in hygiene and sanitation.

The three years are counted starting from the day you complete the course.


Being aware of all these suitable training courses in handling food is one thing. However, actually pursuing and completing them will enable you to WORK SAFELY in a food-related environment.

Now that you have a complete understanding of what food sanitation is, what is covered in training Levels 1, 2, and 3, what job role needs which training level, and the course offerings of each level, it is high time to take a step forward and get that certificate! Remember that, more than getting the certificate, the PRIORITY will always be to handle food safely.

We hope you have found this article useful regarding your food hygiene certificates, training, and course concerns anytime and anywhere!



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