Food hygiene proficiency implies knowledge of the basics of food hygiene, continual updating of knowledge and skills, and that businesses bring in-house controls up to date to account for current developments in their sector/business/operation. The scope of food hygiene proficiency is to ensure that the food business operators produce/distribute safe foodstuffs for their customers. Good food hygiene reduces the health risks of foodstuffs, and can also reduce wastage in the business.
Food hygiene proficiency is a statutory duty for food business operators and workers. Food hygiene proficiency is regulated by the food hygiene regulation [(EC) No 852/2004], and the Food Act (23/2006). Food business operators are required to ensure, at their own expense, that the employees have sufficient food hygiene proficiency for their tasks and that the employees handling foodstuffs are given training and instructions relevant to their tasks. In addition, employers/food business operators have to ensure that persons who handle unpackaged, perishable foodstuffs in their work on food premises have a proficiency certificate (a Hygiene Passport) to show their food hygiene proficiency.
Practical hygiene proficiency means that the knowledge and skills shown by way of the certificate or acquired otherwise are used in their daily work. It is important for the implementation of the principle of hygiene proficiency that in addition to theoretical knowledge both employees and management are committed to maintaining good hygiene practices.
Ensuring hygiene proficiency
Food hygiene proficiency is shown by way of a proficiency certificate, or a Hygiene Passport, in accordance with Finnish Food Authority's model, which has been acquired by having appropriate education or qualifications in the food sector or by passing a separate Hygiene Passport test.
The Hygiene Passport consists of
- an A4-sized paper certificate and
- a plastic credit card-sized card.
A Hygiene Passport is issued in the applicant’s name and it is always personal property, regardless of who paid for it. The receiver of a Hygiene Passport should ensure that they receive both parts of the original Hygiene Passport, which is their personal property.
Both parts of the Hygiene Passport can be used in order to prove food hygiene proficiency. The employer should always be shown one of the original parts of the Hygiene Passport. It is the duty of the employer to keep a record of the Hygiene Passport as part of their self-checking in accordance with the Food Act. The employer can for example take copies of the Hygiene Passports for their record keeping.