Updated on December 2019
A food handler is any person who, in the course of his or her work, has direct or indirect contact with food in any of its phases*. Therefore, it is obliged -by regulation- to have a specific and updated training on food hygiene and safety, in order to guarantee the health of consumers.
* Phases: transformation, preparation, processing, manufacture, packaging, storage, supply, distribution, service, sale or transport..
In case of inspection, this training must be accredited by means of the corresponding Certificate or Food Handler Card. This way, all companies in the food sector (or sectors where food is handled) are responsible for compliance. Therefore, they must ensure that their employees receive the necessary training in hygiene and handling of food products and that this training is updated accordingly.
Currently, the european legal framework on food safety that regulates the training of food handlers consists of a series of regulations:
Regulation (CE) 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of April 2004 establishing a series of general standards for food business operators on food hygiene.
Regulation (UE) 1169/2011, also known as the 'Food Information Act' (or Allergens Law), which requires every food operator to report allergens in their products using a system that clearly identifies them. This regulation affects, among others, restaurants, bars, cafés, hotels, supermarkets, food shops, canteens and, in general, any establishment offering packaged or unpackaged products.
On November 2017 the EU published a specific regulation in order to reduce the presence of acrylamide in food due to the suspected relationship with cancer:
Regulation UE 2017/2158, establishing mitigation measures and reference levels for reducing the presence of acrylamide in food. This regulation, which affects both industries and the catering, hospitality and restaurant sectors, also establishes reference values to effectively detect the presence of acrylamide in food.
In addition to the European regulations, there are a series of laws at national level for establishing the application of the European regulations or extending them in the different countries. For example, please find below some of the national regulations that apply on food safety:
United Kingdom: Food Safety Act 1990, Food Standards Act 1999, The Food Safety Order 1991, Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2005, Food Information Regulation 2011 provides the framework for all food legislation in the UK.
SPAIN: the Royal Decree 109/2010 amends various royal decrees on health matters to adapt them to Law 17/2009 -of November 23rd- on free access to service activities and their exercise and Law 25/2009, of the 22nd of December, on modification of various laws to adapt them to the Law on free access to service activities and their exercise.
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