What food hygiene certificate do I need to open a café in the UK?

If you are in the UK, and thinking about to opening your own cafe there are certain steps you must go through before opening your doors to the public. These steps include registering your business, learning the food hygiene laws, applying for food hygiene ratings, and achieving food hygiene certificates. Adhering to these rules and regulations displays how serious you are about your cafe and the service that you will provide. In this article, we will discuss all the above, and more.

Food hygiene laws in the UK

Everybody who works within the food industry should familiarise themselves and their employees with these two food hygiene laws and regulations.

The Food Safety Act 1990 was put in place by the UK Parliament. It states that it is obligatory to treat food intended for human consumption in a controlled and managed way. It is required that all food must comply with food safety requirements and must be of the nature, substance, and quality demanded. It also needs to be described and labelled correctly.

The Food Hygiene Regulations 2006 set the legal obligations that are on all food-related businesses to ensure food that they prepare and serve is done so in a safe and hygienic manner. These regulations make it an offence for businesses to sell or supply food that is not safe for consumption.

Local authorities are responsible for enforcing food hygiene laws and can inspect your business at any point in the food production and distribution process. Penalties for non-compliance with food safety legislation include unlimited fines under the new sentencing guidelines.

Food hygiene training requirements for cafe owners

All premises within the food industry must take food hygiene and safety seriously – it’s detrimental to both the business and the customers. One way to show that you adhere to regulations is by obtaining food hygiene certificates for your business and staff. Essential Food Hygiene offers three core Food Hygiene & Safety courses; level one, level two, and level three – each targeted at different areas within a food business. They are:

Level One – Level 1 Food Hygiene and Safety Course is targeted towards those in the industry who do not have any direct contact with food or the preparation of food but who work in an environment where food is prepared and acts as a foundation level of knowledge. The level one food hygiene and safety course takes 1 – 2 hours to complete.

Level Two –  Level 2 Food Hygiene and Safety course is for those looking to take the next step in their education of food hygiene and is for those who work in the food industry and frequently handle or prepare food. The level two food hygiene and safety course takes 1 – 2 hours to complete.

Level Three – Level 3 Food Hygiene and Safety Supervisors course is aimed at business owners, supervisors, and managers as it focuses on the management side of food hygiene and safety. If you are a supervisor, manager, or owner of a food business, this Level 3 Food Hygiene & Safety course is for you. The course will offer knowledge on how food should be prepared, handled, and cooked safely on your premises, as well as how to manage food safety and hygiene best practices among your staff. The level three food hygiene and safety course takes 3 – 4 hours to complete.

Registering your cafe with the local authority

Food law requires that you register as self-employed, and register your business if you sell or give away food for free on a regular basis. This should be done at least 28 days before you open for business – and can be done in a matter of minutes, online. Your local authority will then arrange to visit your home for a food hygiene inspection. This will assess whether your food preparation areas and food safety protocols are up to standard. To register online and to find out more information please visit the GOV website. Registration is free, and registration cannot be refused. Do remember, you must register at least 28 days before you open for business.

Inspection and ratings

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is led by the government in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It is put in place to make sure that cafes, food stalls, takeaways, restaurants, and more are preparing food in sanitary, and safe conditions – thus protecting the public. Food Hygiene Ratings are scored between 0-5 which we will summarise below.

Food Hygiene Rating 0 – This is the lowest score you can attain. It means improvement is urgent and needs to be carried out immediately. To receive this rating the organisation will have to obtain 50 points or more – the more points, the worse the rating when it comes to food hygiene scores.

Food Hygiene Rating 1 – Another low rating and one which will require improvements as soon as possible. 45-50 points will achieve a rating of 1. Changes will need to be made within the organisation.

Food Hygiene Rating 2 – Receiving this rating means that improvement is needed and just like the previous ratings, staff training is more than likely required, and perhaps an overhaul when it comes to equipment and processes. A score between 35-40 results in a food hygiene rating of 2.

Food Hygiene Rating 3 – A rating of 25-30 achieves a food hygiene rating of 3. This is the bare minimum and is thought of as a satisfactory score by some. Improvements are still recommended but not needed so urgently.

Food Hygiene Rating 4 – A score of 4 is achieved by attaining 20 points in the inspection. This is a great score to have and many businesses are proud to have it. It means they take food hygiene very seriously. That said, there is still room for improvement if the organisation wants to be even better.

Food Hygiene Rating 5 – A hygiene rating of 5. To achieve this illustrious score you need to score between 0-15 points. This is what all food-handling businesses and organisations should be aiming for.

Tips to achieve a 5-star food hygiene rating

A safe and clean environment is your first step and should be the first area to check and address. The majority of your hygiene rating score is based on cleanliness and structure. Make sure to have a strict cleaning and waste system in place and that you or your employees follow it. Documents regarding food hygiene, safety, staff training, and cleaning schedules are important and should be updated regularly. It is recommended to use a digital method with this as your documents and reports are readily available at the click of a button.

Any food products that you have on your premises should be stored correctly, separately, and in date. Raw and cooked food should also be stored in different places and expiration dates should be displayed clearly. Always make sure food is prepared and cooked in a hygienic and safe manner – with the correct temperatures and conditions. Train employees in food hygiene and safety and make sure they adhere to it. 

Hopefully, this article has been informative for you. All food businesses should prioritise food hygiene, safety, and training to ensure success within their establishment.