RSPH offers a range of Food Safety and Hygiene Qualifications - regulated by OFQUAL/CCEA or Qualifications Wales - at Training Centres around the UK. Select a qualification to see full details - including syllabuses, fact sheets and specimen papers and a list of the Centres where it's available (you can enter your location on the next page).
RSPH Qualifications (classroom assessment*)
Ofqual Reference: 603/0680/4
Ofqual Reference: 603/2407/7
Ofqual Reference: 601/8307/X
Ofqual Reference: 601/4296/0
Ofqual Reference: 603/0716/X
Ofqual Reference: 603/2395/4
Ofqual Reference: 603/2396/6
Ofqual Reference: 603/2396/6
Ofqual Reference: 603/2407/7
Ofqual reference number: 603/5304/1
Ofqual reference number: 603/5305/3
Ofqual reference number: 603/4597/4
Ofqual reference number: 603/3287/6
Ofqual Reference: 603/3653/5
Ofqual Reference: 603/3652/3
Ofqual Reference: 603/3654/7
Ofqual reference number: 603/5237/1
Ofqual reference number: 603/5401/X
If there are no Training Centres in your area offering RSPH Qualifications, our eLearning Courses are a great alternative. They can be studied anytime and anywhere. And some lead to a formal Qualification or contribute CPD points (following an optional classroom assessment).
Optional Classroom Assessment; CPD eligible.
Information Only - No Assessment; CPD eligible.
Information Only - No Assessment; CPD eligible.
If you work with food, even if you’re just starting out, you’re likely to have an awareness of how important safety is. Far from being an optional extra, good food safety and hygiene is the backbone of a well-run kitchen. And, learning how to prepare food safely will not only help you to improve as a catering professional but will enhance the reputation of your business.
The term ‘food safety’ is a catch-all for the systems which ensure any food being served is safe to eat. Food hygiene actually falls under this principle of food safety, along with procedures like Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP). Every business handling food needs impeccable food safety systems, including accurate labelling, safe storage, a solid supply chain and ensuring all staff have undergone food hygiene training.
Food hygiene encompasses all the processes directly involved with food preparation. Handling, chopping, frying, plating up – all need to be done hygienically. As well as the hands-on cooking, food hygiene also applies to staff personal hygiene, the cleanliness of the surfaces and environment that food is cooked in and allergen controls. Potential customers can evaluate a business’s food hygiene practices through its food hygiene rating, which are normally visible at the entrance to a premise and available online.
The first major piece of food regulation, The Foods Safety Act 1990, established that food businesses were responsible for the safety of their food. This included guidelines around food being labelled accurately and that nothing was added or removed from food that could cause it to be harmful. 16 years later, The Food Hygiene Regulations 2006 went further in setting out that food hygiene practices were a business’s legal responsibility rather than a ‘nice-to-have’. This regulation also set out the requirements for the premises that food is prepared in - including pest control, lighting and ventilation.
In 2011, the Food Hygiene Rating system was introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to regulate the standards of food hygiene across businesses. The system’s 0-5 scale (5 being hygiene standards are very good and it’s safe to eat here, and 0 being urgent improvement is required and it’s a potential food poisoning hot-spot) empowers customers in their choice of where to eat, and helps raise standards of food hygiene. The system has had a huge impact in the hospitality sector and was voted one of the top 20 public health achievements of the 21st century. Scotland also has similar regulation in the form of The Food Hygiene Regulation Scheme where food establishments are given a 'pass' or 'improvement required' rating.
Food safety practices are one of the main reasons we don’t get ill from the food we eat. From preventing outbreaks of bacterial viruses to keeping people safe from fatal allergic reactions, protecting the public’s health should be a focus for every business that prepares and cooks food.
Having a hygienic, well-run food environment is not only safe and healthy for your staff – but it also helps to establish your reputation as a trusted business and improves your customers’ experience. It’s also the responsibility of food businesses to make sure their staff are up-to-speed on what the main causes of food poisoning are and how to prevent outbreaks. Although high-profile cases of food poisoning are infrequent, they can be disastrous for a food business.
There are around 500,000 cases of food poisoning in the UK every year and the associated medical and welfare expenses cost businesses around £1.8 billion a year. A large amount of food poisoning cases are avoidable and the role of the food handler is vital for helping to stop the spread of cases.
Salmonella – This type of food poisoning is caught mainly through eggs, but also other poultry and animal products can transmit it. Although the number of cases of people becoming ill with Salmonella are relatively low in the UK, in 2019, a case of 138 people becoming ill with Salmonella made the headlines. RSPH has an eLearning course, Salmonella: Facts and Prevention Strategies, which has everything you need to know about the bacteria.
Campylobacter – Infections are mainly caught through raw milk or poultry products and although reports of people contracting and getting ill from Campylobacter are infrequent, they do still occur. In December 2016, several people reported being ill at their Christmas party, with their symptoms being linked to chicken liver pate that was consumed. You can take our Campylobacter eLearning course to learn how to keep your kitchen safe from this type of food poisoning.
Escherichia coli (E. coli) – In 2019, Environmental Health officers traced an outbreak of E. coli to a dairy farm in South Yorkshire, who recalled their milk to stop any further spread of infection. E. coli is mainly transmitted through unpasteurised milk, undercooked meat and fresh vegetables.
Norovirus - At the start of 2020, nearly 3,000 cases of Norovirus has been reported from the previous six months. The virus tends to strike during winter and is mainly transmitted through people coming into contact with contaminated food.
Allergies – Around 2 million people in the UK live with a diagnosed food allergy. Although most allergic reactions can be avoided by checking food labels and through careful diet choices, for people who suffer from a severe allergy even the slightest trace of a food allergen can set off a reaction. For people working in food handling and preparation, it is vital to know how to help people who have allergies to make safe food choices.
The food industry has always been a hub of opportunity. The UK food and drink industry employs over 400,000 people and contributes £28.2bn to the economy every year. As food, dining and reviewing trends change, having a good reputation for food standards is integral to positive word-of-mouth. Every role within the food industry requires a good understanding of food safety and hygiene, including the most common sector roles:
Food preparation and serving: Jobs include chefs, bakers, butchers, kitchen assistants, waiting staff, baristas and bar staff. Whether you work in a restaurant, café, pub, food truck, canteen or on a cruise ship, you need to understand hygienic food preparation and how to serve and store food safely.
Food supply chain: Includes people who work in food factory operations, food safety supervisors, quality technologists and supply chain managers. These roles ensure that food is sourced, packaged and delivered in ways which are safe and secure.
Food and Environmental standards: Although not directly involved with food, this sector is integral for maintaining the high standards of the UK food industry. This includes those who work in allergen control, food and safety officers and inspectors and environmental health officers specialising in food safety. Councils, food manufacturers and government organisations also employ people who understand the complexities of food standards and environmental health laws to advise them on food safety.
People have historically been drawn to the food industry by the opportunity to work in a varied, fast-paced and creative industry. However, the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit have raised questions about the future of the UK food safety industry, with the sector facing significant changes for the foreseeable future.
No room for compromise on UK food standards
A petition from the National Farmers’ Union gained a huge amount of traction in June 2020, thanks in part to the support of Jamie Oliver. The petition calls on the Government to protect the UK’s food standards in law, ensuring that imported food meets the high standards that the UK farming industry adheres to. The calls for the Government are two-fold: to not compromise the UK farming industry’s aims to be carbon-neutral by 2040 and to ensure that future trade deals prevent imported food being produced in ways that would be illegal in the UK.
How Covid-19 Could Change the Dining Out Landscape
The Covid-19 pandemic brought a temporary end to dining out and grabbing fast food for a quick lunch. With restaurants facing financial difficulties, many establishments innovated to meet the growing demand for takeaways to replace eating out. The takeaway market had a 39% increase in sales from April 2019 to April 2020 as people swapped eating out for dining in.
However, social distancing and a heightened awareness of good hygiene practices means that people are now more wary of going back to restaurants, with around a fifth of customers planning to go to pubs and restaurants less frequently. With venues operating at reduced capacity because of social distancing guidelines and the public’s wariness of socialising in pre-Covid ways, the industry will have to continue to innovate to meet changes in attitudes to eating out.
RSPH works with charities, the food industry and the Government to produce campaigns and policy reports to improve food safety and hygiene standards across the UK.
Every year, 5,000 people with food allergies need hospital treatment for severe allergic reactions and ten die from food-related anaphylaxis. As part of our Allergies Research, we wanted to understand how accurately takeaway delivery businesses were labelling their food, and if common allergens like eggs, milk and celery were listed. Since December 2014, takeaways have had to provide accurate information on the allergens in their food, but many still fail to do so.
RSPH undertook a mystery dining experiment, where takeaways from 65 restaurants across London had their allergen lists assessed and the businesses asked about potential allergens in their food. We found that four in five restaurants tested didn’t have a system in place to verify if their food had ingredients that could cause allergic reactions, and 70% appeared to not comply with the law by failing to provide allergen information in the right way.
As a result of the experiment, we called on takeaway aggregators like Deliveroo and HungryHouse to ask restaurants to display allergen information before they register and to reject businesses who don’t display this information. We also called for the FSA to link the food hygiene rating scheme to allergen management and ensure that takeaway staff are trained to understand food allergens. You can read the full report and find out more about our ongoing food allergens work.
RSPH Food Safety Special Interest Group
You can keep up to date with the latest food safety and hygiene industry developments by joining our Food Special Interest Group. You’ll get invites to webinars and events with industry experts, and access to our website member area which has research resources and previous webinars available.
We regularly collaborate with industry experts who contribute to our Public Health news blog, offering the latest opinions and updates in food safety and hygiene.
RSPH’s food safety and hygiene qualifications are suitable for everyone working in a role where food safety and hygiene are involved. Whether you’re just starting out or are an experienced food safety technician looking to improve your HACCP knowledge, we have a qualification that will boost your skills and help you in your career.
RSPH qualifications are taken by over 70,000 people every year, and we offer courses in locations across the country through our network of registered training providers. This is essential in the food industry, as you need to have these skills to ensure you can practice safely.
All our qualifications are:
- Competitively priced (with discounts for bulk orders)
- CPD accredited
- Industry recognised, OFQUAL regulated qualifications (Internationally recognised)
- Flexible learning opportunities that can fit around other commitments
To find out more about our Food Safety and Hygiene qualification please get in touch with our friendly qualifications team, who will be happy to help with any questions you may have.