Information for food business operators

1. General duty to instruct

Food business operators are to ensure that food handlers are supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters commensurate with their work activity. [Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the hygiene of foodstuffs, Annex II, chapter 12, paragraph 1]

This concerns all who work on food premises regardless of which foodstuffs are handled, and how. Also those who work on the food premises but are not directly handling foodstuffs, such as service and cleaning staff, have to be aware of and be able to consider the effects of their work methods and procedures on the foodstuffs that are being handled on the food premises.

2. Ensuring hygiene proficiency

From whom and at what stage should the operator ensure a Hygiene Passport?

Food business operators must ensure that persons working in food premises who handle unpackaged, perishable food have a Hygiene Passport that is in accordance with the model approved by the Finnish Food Authority demonstrating their competence in food hygiene, if they have worked in food premises in tasks that require handling of unpackaged perishable food for a total of at least three months. (Food Act 297/2021 section 19 subsection 1). The three months also include previous similar work, that is, the three months are not reduced to zero at the beginning of every employment.

How does the operator ensure that the employee has a Hygiene Passport?

  • A worker who is required to have a Hygiene Passport has to present one of the two original parts of the Hygiene Passport to the business operator. The operator must also ensure that the Hygiene Passport actually belongs to the person presenting the Hygiene Passport.
  • A suitable education in food industry cannot prove hygiene kompetens.
  • Both parts of the Hygiene Passport are of equal value, in other words the worker can present either the Hygiene Passport card or the paper certificate to the employer.
  • Photocopies of the Hygiene Passport are not proof of hygiene proficiency.
  • The series of numbers in the Hygiene Passport are not proof of hygiene proficiency.

Who owns the original Hygiene Passport?

  • A Hygiene Passport belongs to a person to whon it has been issued.
  • The receiver of a Hygiene Passport should make sure that they receive both parts of the original Hygiene Passport. 
  • A Hygiene Passport is issued with the applicant’s name and it is always personal property regardless of who paid for the Hygiene Passport test/Hygiene Passport. 

What does so-called temporary certificate means? 

  • A so-called temporary certificate is not a real Hygiene Passport according to Finnish Food Authority's model, and it is not a substitute for the real Hygiene Passport.
  • A so-called temporary certificate supplied by the Examiner cannot prove hygiene proficiency. The original Hygiene Passport according to Finnish Food Authority’s model always has to be presented to the business operator or employer.
  • When necessary, the Hygiene Passport Examiner can supply a so-called temporary certificate to a person who has successfully passed the Hygiene Passport test. 
  • It is a certificate in free format which is drawn up by the Examiner, in which the Examiner confirms that the person in question has taken part in and passed a Hygiene Passport test organised by Examiner.
  • People who have carried out the test generally ask for a so-called temporary certificate in order to demonstrate in a job interview or to a new employer that they have passed the Hygiene Passport test. In these situations, the customer has not yet been able to receive a Hygiene Passport from the Examiner.
  • A so-called temporary certificate is not valid forever, but only until the person receives the actual Hygiene Passport. This usually takes a maximum of one month from the test session

Are foreign hygiene passports valid in Finland?

Hygiene passports gained in other countries are not valid in Finland.

How long is a Hygiene Passport valid?

Information can be found on the Finnish Food Safety Authority's website Validy of the Hygiene Passport.

3. Duty to keep records

Where does the obligation come from?

Food business operators must keep records of the food hygiene competence of the persons working on food premises and, when requested, present the information to the control authority. (Food Act 297/2021 section 19 subsection 3)

What kind of record-keeping should be?

The record-keeping can be

  • copies of the presented Hygiene Passports
  • a list of the persons who are required to have a Hygiene Passport, and who have presented the original Hygiene Passport to the business operator.
  • On food premises with only a few workers, the record-keeping can also consist of the workers’ presenting the original Hygiene Passports to the controller.

Record-keeping can be in paper, electronic or both. The operator must be able to present it to the controller.

4. What is the handling of unpackaged perishable foodstuffs?

Finnish Food Authority has compiled a table on what is considered to be handling of unpackaged, easily perishable foodstuffs and who is required to have a Hygiene Passport. It is presented using practical examples. The table is available on Finnish Food Authority's internet page Handling of unpackaged easily perishable foodstuffs

5. Who can issue a Hygiene Passport?

A Hygiene Passport can be issued by a Hygiene Passport Examiner approved by the Finnish Food Authority. List of Hygiene Passport Examiners


For more information contact Finnish Food Authority’s customer service on Hygiene Passports:

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Page last updated 3/30/2022