What Level Food Hygiene Certificate Do I Need?

What Level Food Hygiene Certificate Do I Need?

If you run a food business of any type, be it hospitality, retail or manufacturing, you have a responsibility in law to ensure that your staff have an appropriate level of training. Here we will discuss the different levels of food hygiene training that exist and what levels you need for your business.

In short you need:

  • Level 1 food hygiene certificate for all waiting and front of house staff
  • Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate for all kitchen staff, Line chefs, Kitchen Porters etc
  • Level 3 Food Hygiene Certificate for kitchen management, Executive and Head Chefs.

Below we will go through in more detail why this is and what it involves.

Why do I need Food Hygiene certificates for me and my staff?

Firstly not everyone needs a certificate, the law requires that all staff who handle food must be appropriately supervised and have received food hygiene training. This means that it is possible to satisfy the law using in-house, on the job training. However, you would need to be able to prove that the training was sufficient, appropriate, and factually correct and delivered competently.

Due to this is it has become industry standard to have staff complete a food hygiene course accredited by RSPH, CIEH and Local Authorities. These can be administered by a qualified trainer in person on scheduled training courses, however this is usually only cost effective if you need a large amount of staff trained together such as a new site opening, or in large companies who have dedicated training staff. The most common option is using an online training company such as Highspeed Training or Virtual College. Companies like these offer courses that are constantly updated and you can be sure meet the legal requirements. This training needs to be refreshed every three years.

Level 1 Food Safety Course

A level 1 course deals with the basics of food hygiene practices, it is suitable for people who just want to know a bit more about food safety in the home, and also for staff who work in food businesses but don’t have a direct contact with the food, such as, Front of house employees in hotels and restaurants, Checkout staff in retail stores, Waiters and waitresses, Bar workers, Food delivery drivers (suppliers, takeaway, etc.), Kitchen porters and Warehouse staff.

A level 1 course will cover things like:

Food Hygiene

  • Why is food hygiene important?
  • Food hygiene law
  • Understanding food safety
  • Health issues caused by contaminants

Food Safety Hazards

  • Microbiological hazards
  • Allergenic hazards
  • Physical hazards
  • Chemical hazards

Food Safety Controls

  • The conditions for bacterial growth
  • Temperature control
  • Controlling time
  • Low and high risk foods
  • Controlling microbiological hazards
  • Allergenic contamination
  • Controlling physical hazards
  • Food deliveries
  • Refrigeration
  • Pests

Personal Hygiene

  • Hand hygiene
  • Hair hygiene
  • Body hygiene and bad habits
  • Protective clothing
  • Reporting illness

Cleaning Activities

  • Why is cleaning important?
  • Waste management
  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Clean as you go
  • Dishwashers
  • Scheduling cleaning

You would expect an online level 1 course to take the average staff member around 1 hour to complete.

Note about Kitchen porters:
Due to the varying nature of Kitchen porter duties in different kitchens, it can often be more appropriate for them to complete the Level 2 course. Especially if they are looking to move on in the industry as a chef.

Level 2 Food Safety Course

A Level 2 course is aimed at people who directly handle and prepare food, and is therefore much more detailed. At this level courses are also focused towards different industries, so you will find separate Level 2 Food Safety & Hygiene courses for Catering, Retail and Manufacturing. This is the most commonly held food hygiene course level.

You need staff trained to this level to meet the requirements for anyone who works preparing, cooking, packing or processing food such as, Line chefs, Kitchen Porters as well as Market stall holders, some Farm shop workers, Butchers, Bakers, Fishmongers, Wholesalers, Delicatessens.

A level 2 course is more detailed, covering a wider range of issues in much more detail, as an example the Highspeed Training Level 2 Course covers:

Food Safety Legislation

  • Food handlers and the law
  • Key terms
  • European and UK regulations
  • Food handler training
  • Prosecution
  • Enforcement of food safety law
  • Legal notices
  • Due diligence
  • Food hygiene ratings

Physical, Chemical and Allergenic Hazards

  • Physical hazards
  • Types of physical contamination
  • Controlling physical contamination
  • Chemical hazards
  • Controlling chemical contamination
  • Allergenic contamination
  • Food intolerances
  • Controlling allergenic contamination
  • Anaphylactic shock
  • Allergen laws

Microbiological Hazards

  • Top 10 causes of food poisoning
  • Food poisoning in the UK
  • Symptoms of food poisoning
  • Preventing food poisoning outbreaks
  • Microbiological hazards
  • Low and high risk foods
  • Controlling temperature and time
  • Cross contamination
  • Common food poisoning bacteria
  • Food spoilage
  • Food preservation
  • Preventing microbiological contamination

Food Premises Design and Cleaning Schedules

  • Food premises and the law
  • Principles of design
  • Waste management
  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Cleaning schedules
  • Safe cleaning
  • Six stages of cleaning
  • Cleaning food storage areas and chillers
  • Dishwashers
  • Pests
  • Preventing pests

Food Storage

  • Choosing a supplier
  • Food distribution and deliveries
  • Food labelling and storage
  • Use by dates and best before dates
  • Refrigeration
  • Refrigerator temperatures
  • Freezing and defrosting
  • Stock rotation

Personal Hygiene

  • Food handler responsibilities
  • Hand hygiene
  • Hand washing procedures
  • Protective gloves
  • Bad habits
  • Illness
  • Hair, jewellery and smoking
  • Protective clothing

Food Preparation

  • Food preparation
  • Cooking and reheating
  • Taking food temperatures
  • Hot holding
  • Cooling food
  • Food service

Further Information

  • How to register your food business
  • Contact your local authority
  • Safer Food, Better Business
  • Legal documents
  • FSA publications

You would expect an online level 2 course to take the average staff member around 2 - 3 hours to complete.

Level 3 Food Safety Course

Whereas a Level 1 online course might be expected to take 1 hour to complete at the most, the level 3 course has an expected completion time of 8 – 10 hours. This gives some guide to the detail and knowledge level involved.

Again available in three varieties, Catering, Retail and manufacturing, this level is designed for people responsible for supervising other members of staff such as Head and Sous Chef’s, Production Managers and Retail store Managers. It is generally recommended that all food premises should have at least one staff member complete a level 3 course. You can expect to cover the following in a Level 3 course.

Supervising Food Safety

  • Why is food safety important?
  • Who is most at risk?
  • Which foods cause illness?
  • Key terms
  • The role of a supervisor

Non-Bacterial Food Poisoning

  • Chemical food poisoning
  • Metals
  • Poisonous plants
  • Poisonous fish
  • Mycotoxins

Food Safety Legislation

  • Current legislation
  • Enforcing the law
  • Fines and prosecution
  • Due diligence
  • Food business operator and employee responsibilities
  • Investigating outbreaks of food-borne illness

Food Contamination

  • Physical contamination
  • Chemical contamination
  • Microbial contamination
  • Allergenic contamination
  • Cross contamination
  • Detecting contaminants

Temperature Control

  • Safe temperatures
  • Food deliveries
  • Fridge temperature
  • Freezer temperature
  • Cooking temperature
  • Reheating food
  • Cooling food
  • Hot and cold holding
  • Cook-chill and cook-freeze

Controlling Contamination

  • Deliveries
  • Food storage
  • Stock control
  • Recording and labelling
  • Use by dates
  • Best before dates
  • Food preparation and cooking
  • Food service and delivery
  • The role of a supervisor


  • Risks caused by spoilage organisms
  • Bacterial growth - nutrients, moisture, activity, temperature, time and atmosphere
  • Bacterial spores
  • Toxins

Checking, Verifying and Recording Temperatures

  • Measuring equipment
  • Air temperature
  • How to take food temperatures
  • Recording temperature checks

Food Preservation

  • Food spoilage
  • Types of food preservation
  • High temperature preservation
  • Dehydration
  • Chemical methods of preservation
  • Physical methods of preservation

Pest Control

  • Common pests
  • Rats
  • Mice
  • Cockroaches
  • Controlling pests
  • Supervising pest control

Waste, Cleaning and Disinfection

  • Storing waste
  • Waste removal
  • Benefits of cleaning
  • Supervising cleaning
  • Types of cleaning
  • Six stages of cleaning
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Cleaning work equipment and surfaces
  • Cleaning schedules

Personal Hygiene

  • Why is personal hygiene important?
  • Supervisor responsibilities
  • Monitoring standards
  • Hand washing
  • Skin infections and wounds
  • Sickness
  • Protective clothing
  • Hair
  • Jewellery
  • Smoking and eating at work

Training Staff

  • Why is training important?
  • Levels of training
  • Staff induction training
  • On-going training
  • Staff training records
  • The role of management

Food Safety Management Tools

  • Safer Food, Better Business
  • Management responsibilities
  • Opening and closing checks
  • Documenting the food safety system
  • Further resources

Food Poisoning and Food-Borne Illness

  • What is food poisoning?
  • Salmonella
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Bacillus cereus
  • Escherichia coli (E coli)
  • Clostridium botulinum
  • Food borne diseases
  • Campylobacter enteritis
  • Escherichia coli 0157
  • Listeriosis
  • Typhoid and paratyphoid
  • Dysentery (shigella)
  • Food borne viruses
  • Norovirus

Implementing a Food Safety Management System

  • Choose a HACCP team
  • Describe the products and ingredients
  • Identify the products’ uses and consumers
  • Construct a flow diagram
  • Confirm the flow diagram in the premises
  • Hazard analysis
  • Determine critical control points
  • Establish critical limits
  • Monitor critical control points
  • Establish corrective actions
  • Establish verification procedures
  • Record keeping

Premises and Equipment Design

  • Premises design and layout
  • Suitable workplace materials
  • Lighting and ventilation
  • Utilities
  • Work equipment
  • Fixtures and fittings
  • Food storage areas

Level 4

A level 4 Course is also available, this is aimed at Quality assurance managers, Production Managers, Owners or Managers of large Food Businesses and hygiene auditors. Most businesses would not require a level 4 food hygiene certificate.

Ensuring that you know what Food hygiene training levels the staff in your business require is beneficial to both you and your staff, protects you and ensures that standards are maintained throughout the kitchen.

For more information on training requirements check out our resources page where you can find the list of recommended courses for your business.

If you are running a food business then check out these other articles

Do Food Hygiene Ratings Have to be Displayed?

How do I prepare for a Food Hygiene Inspection?

How are Food Hygiene Ratings Calculated?

How Often are Food Hygiene Inspections Carried Out?

Food Premises Self-Inspection Checklist & Guide for FHRS & FHIS

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