This page is written specifically for the UK. The general principles apply everywhere but your national or local laws & regulations may differ. Please check with an appropriate authority.


Much is written about Food Hygiene in the kitchen. In fact, in a catering establishment one can practically fall over from the array of information not only on Food Hygiene but also on Health and Safety. All food businesses in the UK are required by law to have a Food Safety Management System that includes HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) principles. The fastest and easiest way to set this up is by using The Safer Food System. See their website for more information. The Government Food Standards Agency, monitor the system and can provide details relating to this subject from the policy and procedure to the implementation, which is the ‘driving licence’ to operate in this area.

The staff directly or indirectly employed in the kitchen as ‘Food Handlers’ must have an adequate Food Hygiene Certificate, which proves that they understand the process of maintaining good hygiene practice in their workplace. This can be acquired from a qualified body, appointed by the Food Standards Agency, after 1 full day's training and an exam taken on the same the day. This certificate has to be updated every 3 years. The Royal Society for Public Health maintain a list of accredited training centres.

The kitchen itself must have an operational certificate issued by the Local Authority who supervise this area of business and make sure that premises in which the food we eat is prepared comply with and maintain good hygiene practices. This certificate is awarded after inspection by an Environmental Health Officer.

Author's Note: It is astonishing that in food preparation and cooking, the basic elements of food hygiene procedures are taken for granted by the press and media in their reportage — so much so, that you have to struggle to find in a cookery book where the very simple aspects of food hygiene are even mentioned, almost as if the readers would been offended by a few lines on the subject. We do not need to be bombarded, just briefly reminded. We accept the imposed health warnings on a cigarette packet which cover about 20% of the total surface area. By comparison, the amount of food safety information that could be applied to a cookery book, lets say 4 or 5 lines, would be equivalent to 0.02% of the book. There is room for thought here but I do not wish to be too controversial.

Table Digest welcomes your comments and opinions on this particular food safety topic through the Forum section of this website.


Front of House

The Front of House team connected with any aspect of food preparation or food service procedure must also have the same food hygiene certificates and apply the same rules as those operating the kitchen.

Domestic Environment

In a domestic environment the host is not obliged to have any such certificate but still needs to be aware of the common rules of food hygiene to avoid possible food poisoning to their family and guests. Information can be obtained directly from the Food Standards Agency website. A certificate might, nevertheless, be advisable.

There is one important exception however, and this is when a domestic kitchen is used for a business enterprise. We are not talking just jam-making, but food prepared and cooked on a larger scale and then taken and consumed elsewhere.

This enterprise is known as a Home Catering Service. People who work at home to make Wedding cakes, biscuits or any other type of food which is supplied to local or national retail shops are referred to as a Cottage Industry and have to adhere to the same Food Hygiene regulations and practices laid down by the Food Standards Agency for a commercial kitchen. That is they must all have a Food Safety Management System, along with all staff members having a food hygiene certificate. See The Safer Food System website for more information.

Make clean hands your number 1 priority… You know it makes sense.