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

Food business operators must, at their own expense, ensure that persons working in food premises notified or approved by virtue of this Act who handle unpackaged, perishable food have a certificate that is in accordance with the model approved by the Finnish Food Authority demonstrating their competence in food hygiene (competence certificate), if they have worked in one or several food premises in tasks that require handling of unpackaged perishable food for a total of at least three months. (Food Act 23/2006 section 27 subsection 2). The three months also include previous similar work, that is, the three months are not reduced to zero at the beginning of every employment.

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. The receiver of a Hygiene Passport should make sure that they receive both parts of the original 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. 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.

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. A 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. People who have carried out the test generally ask for a 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 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.

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

3. Duty to keep records

Food business operators must in connection with their self-checks 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 23/2006 section 27 subsection 4)

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.


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