If you’re thinking of looking for work in a kitchen, have already found a job or have been working in catering for a while, you’ll need to consider completing a food hygiene course. Keeping customers safe, managing a clean and sanitary kitchen and storing food safely are all vital parts of everyone’s role in a kitchen.
Why do you need training?
The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 require both employers and employees who handle and prepare food to be suitably instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters at a level that is appropriate to their jobs. This basically means that you need to understand the basics of food hygiene and how to work safely with food.
Many jobs actually require that you have a food hygiene certificate before you start work, and it is recommended that you refresh your certification every three years.
Why is food hygiene so important?
An inspector is well within their rights to enter your place of work and carry out an inspection at any “reasonable hour” - they don’t need an appointment. If food hygiene standards are below expectations, the consequences can be serious. Not only could your job be in jeopardy, but the safety of your customers could also be brought into question. In very serious cases, food safety breaches can result in prosecution.
What to expect from a food hygiene course
Luckily, a food hygiene course is simple, short, and actually really interesting. You will probably learn about the cost of poor food hygiene, the basics of food poisoning, how germs grow and are transferred, about contamination, personal hygiene, allergies and temperature control.
You may also have the opportunity to look at the importance of the construction and design of food premises, pest control considerations, preparation, cooking and cooling, cleaning and disinfecting and hazard analysis. Understanding why food hygiene is so important means that you’ll be in a good position to always make sensible, informed decisions in a kitchen environment. Your tutor will be available to answer any questions, and their expertise in the field will mean that you are in good, safe hands!
Basic food hygiene courses are usually divided into two levels:
Level 1: perfect for staff who are new to catering, Level 1 is designed for people who will be handling low-risk foods and will be supervised in the kitchen environment. Level 1 is also a great refresher for those returning to catering after a career break.
Level 2: This course goes into a little more detail, and is designed for those who will be working without direct supervision handling potentially high-risk foods.
What about online courses?
You can take an accredited or non-accredited course. Whilst both courses cover the same criteria, an accredited course is associated with a nationally recognised organisation. There is a chance that some employers may not be satisfied with a non-accredited course, particularly those completed online without any practical sessions.
Food hygiene training should ideally be taken when you first embark on a career in a kitchen. This training will help you secure a job, and from there the culinary world is your oyster. Perhaps you’re interested in becoming a sous chef, pastry chef or even working your way up the ranks to executive chef. You never know, this could be the first step on your path to becoming the next Gordon Ramsay!
Test your knowledge!
Answer these true or false questions to test your general food knowledge:
1) TRUE OR FALSE: eating food after its best before date won’t hurt.
2) TRUE OR FALSE: food poisoning isn’t serious; it just means an upset stomach
3) TRUE OR FALSE: if food looks and smells ok then it will be fine to eat
4) TRUE OR FALSE: cooked rice cannot be kept as long as other leftovers
2) FALSE. Food poisoning can result in long-term health problems, and thousands of people die every year from foodborne illnesses.
3) FALSE. The bacteria that cause food poisoning do not smell nor are they usually visible to the naked eye.
4) TRUE. Bacterial growth increases after cooking as the reduction in temperature allows the bacteria to thrive.
(questions from http://www.food.gov.uk/)
By Carrie Barclay
Got something to say about food hygiene courses? Leave your comments below