Is it mandatory to have a Food Handler Card?
The Food Handler's Blog

Is it mandatory to have a Food Handler Card?


At this point, with the latest changes in the regulation, there is some confusion about this. The short answer is that the so-called food handler card no longer exists, but it is mandatory to have the equivalent training. So, we're pretty much on the same page, actually.

It is true that the current regulations do not explicitly include this, but they do clearly include the relevant sanctions in the event of failure to comply with the minimum training requirements . As well as requiring specific training to be able to handle food safely, this training must be able to be accredited: i.e. demonstrated.

And how can it be accredited? By means of a document certifying the training. This certificate may be issued by training academies or, if qualified, by the contracting company itself, which is responsible for its quality. In any case, this training certificate would be the equivalent to the one popularly known as the food handler card, now called certificate.

Now that we are clear that it is compulsory to have the necessary training and that it must be accredited, we will explain when it is compulsory and whether you should renew it if you already have it but it is not updated.

Food Hygiene - Level 2 Certification

When is a food handler's card required?

When a person handles food to be consumed outside the domestic environment, it is necessary to have the knowledge that will enable him/her to handle it. This is very important to minimize the risks to consumers in terms of preserving the organoleptic characteristics of food and, more importantly, that do not pose a risk to the health of their consumers.

We imagine the cook in a restaurant, but there are so many situations where food is handled. Even if it is only the movement of food from one place to another, there are also risks that must be prevented. In fact, there are countless processes in which a food can be contaminated and for which it is mandatory to have it. For example:

  • Food businesses need their workers to be properly trained and able to prove it.
  • Restaurants and bars.
  • Canteens at schools and residences.
  • Hospitals.
  • Food stores where packaged and fresh food is sold.

As we see in these examples, it is necessary in almost all food-related sectors where situations arise where food risk is present. So much so that we could almost say that the knowledge about food handling should be general.

In any case, it is always good for a working worker to have it, as it may be necessary and, if he has it, he will be in an advantageous position over others who do not have it. In addition, obtaining a food handler's card is easy and fast with professional and experienced training companies that have the appropriate training material and learning methodology like ours.

Is it compulsory to renew the food handler card?

In this sense, we find ourselves as at the beginning: the current regulation does not establish specific deadlines. They leave it to the discretion of the companies in their Food Risk Plans. But, of course, not all companies have this and workers change companies.

In any case, and as a general consideration, we could consider that the term of validity of the acquired knowledge is around 4 years , which is what the previous regulations marked by law. However, depending on the tasks performed, renewal times may be shorter , as in the handling of food for at-risk populations, or longer, as in the transport of packaged and finished foods ready for marketing.

From our company, and due to the experience we have of many years of training and issuing certifications of such training, we recommend a period of 4 years, provided that there is no change in the regulations that is relevant, such as the change caused by the Food Information Law (allergens).

For our part, Coformacion offers plans for the renewal of the food handler card in an easy and simple way, making it easy for everyone to keep up to date as a food professional, even when they are unemployed.

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More information

Food Standards Agency
Codex Alimentarius at FAO
European Food Safety Authority
WikiPedia - Food Safety


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