Food Safety Training Ashford, Kent

HACCP Training Courses

CaterSafe Consultants offer a full range of HACCP training courses for people who are in the catering or food manufacturing industries. Please see the full list below…


The gaining of this qualification will enable individuals to understand the importance of implementing a food safety management system, based on the Codex HACCP principles, in a catering environment. They will learn their role in ensuring the effective operation of the HACCP system and gain the knowledge to identify, control and monitor hazards at points critical to food safety within their business. They will also understand the importance of taking corrective action when critical limits are breached and become familiar with the documentation and records needed to support a HACCP system.

Duration of course: 1 day 


This qualification further expands on the fundamentals of the Level 2 Award in HACCP for Catering. It is suitable for supervisors, managers, chefs, trainers and HACCP team members employed within a catering environment.

Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 requires that ‘those responsible for the development and maintenance of the HACCP system have received adequate training in the application of the HACCP principles’.

This qualification will provide candidates with the knowledge to develop, implement and maintain a food safety management system based on Codex HACCP principles, in a catering environment. They will understand the legal requirements pertaining to HACCP and the flexibility allowed, the importance of prerequisite programmes and the role of supervisors in monitoring, taking corrective action, completing and checking documentation and verifying and reviewing the HACCP system.

It is recommended that candidates have completed the Level 3 Award in Food Safety, before attending this course.

Duration of course: 3 days 


The Level 4 HACCP qualification is aimed primarily at learners either at, or working towards, a management level in a catering business. Achievement of either of these qualifications will enable learners to understand the importance of implementing a food safety management system, based on the Codex HACCP principles, and give learners the skills to evaluate HACCP plans critically.

It is highly recommended that individuals have already completed a Level 4 Award in Food Safety, or the equivalent, and/or a Level 3 HACCP qualification before attending this course.

This qualification is very useful for auditors, enforcers, trainers and other food safety professionals.This qualification covers the skills needed to assist in the implementation of a HACCP system, to evaluate HACCP plans critically and to understand the importance of having an effective HACCP system in place.

Duration of course: 5 days 


This qualification will allow individuals to understand the importance of implementing a food safety management system, based on the Codex HACCP principles, in a Food Manufacturing environment. They will learn their role in ensuring the effective operation of the HACCP system and gain the knowledge to identify, control and monitor hazards at points critical to food safety within their business. They will also understand the importance of taking corrective action when critical limits are breached and become familiar with the documentation and records needed to support a HACCP system.
Duration of course: 1 day 


This regulated qualification expands on the fundamentals of the Level 2 Award in HACCP in Manufacturing.

Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 requires that ‘those responsible for the development and maintenance of the HACCP principles have received adequate training in the application of the HACCP principles’. In order for employees to deal competently and confidently with this requirement, a thorough understanding of Codex HACCP principles is needed.

Those achieving this qualification will understand how the 12 Codex steps to HACCP contribute to safe food production. They will learn:

how to identify, control and monitor significant hazards at points which are critical to food safety; the appropriate corrective action to take when critical limits are breached; the type of documentation and records required; an understanding of the need to review the HACCP system at appropriate times.

This qualification is fully compliant with industry and regulatory standards, as well as being recognised by environmental health practitioners, auditors and other enforcement officers. Individuals achieving this qualification will understand the importance of adapting HACCP principles for product-based and process-led situations.
Duration of course: 5 days 


Level 4 HACCP qualifications are aimed at learners either at, or working towards, a management level in a manufacturing business. Achievement of either of these qualifications will enable learners to understand the importance of implementing a food safety management system, based on the Codex HACCP principles, and give learners the skills to evaluate HACCP plans critically.
It is highly recommended that individuals have already completed a Level 4 Award in Food Safety, or the equivalent, and/or a Level 3 HACCP qualification before attending this course.

These qualifications are useful for auditors, enforcement officers and other food safety professionals.
Duration of course: 5 days 

NB: All of the above accredited training courses are accredited by either HABC or the CIEH.

For more details, please contact a member of our training team.

 Office: 01233 822 201

HACCP Training UK

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point or HACCP is one of the most common approaches to food safety management. However, in order to implement it into an organisation successfully, HACCP training UK is essential. At CaterSafe Consultants, we can help your business to succeed with HACCP through our HACCP training courses.

HACCP Training UK in Food Manufacturing – Which course is right for your team?

Some of the most popular HACCP Training UK courses that we offer are our level awards for HACCP in Manufacturing. We have levels that vary in complexity depending on the needs of your business. We recommend all staff in a food manufacturing environment to firstly take our Level 2 Award For HACCP For Manufacturing.

The level two award is an excellent introduction to food safety management systems. It provides students with a real understanding of the Codex HACCP principles. The course then explains how the HACCP principles can then help to support a food manufacturing business. HACCP training provides detail, understanding and application to adopt it in your workplace. The course only lasts a day meaning your team are not taken away from their tasks for too long, minimise the disruption to productivity.

For team members that play an active role in the development of HACCP principles and the management of food safety, then our Level 3 Award For HACCP For Food Manufacturing is ideal. This meets the requirement of responsible staff having sufficient training for HACCP principles. It also gives learners an in-depth insight into the 12 Codex steps to HACCP to help improve safe food production.

This intensive and engaging course lasts for five days. At the end of the course, students may receive their qualification, which is fully compliant with industry and regulatory standards.

Not sure which HACCP Training UK is right for you?

If you would like your team to have improved HACCP knowledge, training can be invaluable. Our food safety consultants can help to determine which course is right for your team members and develop a food safety training plan for your business. If you’d like to find out more, ring CaterSafe Consultants on 01233 822 201 to arrange a free consultation.

Food Safety Kent

For anyone starting a new food business, there is a lot to consider. From financing to finding the perfect location, choosing the ideal menu, providers and creating your brand. With so much to get underway, it is essential to keep in mind the basic requirements of the business: food safety. At CaterSafe Consultants, we can support your new venture. We can help you with all aspects of food safety Kent, such as food safety training and consultancy.

CaterSafe Consultants cover all aspects of food safety Kent and in the surrounding areas too. Whatever support your new food business needs, we are here to help you with our bespoke and buy online courses.

Food Safety Kent – What your business needs to consider

  1. Registration

To set up a new food business, you need to register your food premises with the local council. Different councils may vary their terms, but typically you will need to register your premises at least 28 days before you intend to open.

  1. Get to grips with the law

It is essential that you and your team learn the basic hygiene requirements and the regulations that relate to your business. The Food Hygiene Regulations is where you need to start your reading so that you can adopt food safety Kent. Training courses are an excellent way to understand the requirements of the law. Food safety Kent training can also provide you with practical steps to implement good food hygiene practices in your business.

  1. HACCP

Food safety management is essential for new business. One of the best ways to evidence your commitment to managing food safety is through HACCP. HACCP stands for hazard analysis and critical control point. CaterSafe Consultants offer a range HACCP courses to cover a range of different food safety businesses

How CaterSafe Consultants can help

CaterSafe Consultants offer food safety training and consultancy in Kent and beyond. If you are starting a new food venture, speak to our team for free, friendly advice for the best training to suit your needs. Get in touch for your free consultation.



HACCP Training in Kent

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, also known as HACCP, is an essential aspect of any successful food business. HACCP is a system that you can implement in your food handling business that helps to control aspects of food safety to minimise the risk. However, to deploy HACCP in your organisation effectively, training is essential. This is why CaterSafe Consultants offer HACCP Training in Kent.

Why choose HACCP Training in Kent?

HACCP can be used in any food business. It is designed to help you to score highly on food hygiene audits as well as controlling potential hazards in your food production. As well as being one of the most rigorous food safety mechanisms, HACCP is also cost-effective.

HACCP works as a preventative mechanism, helping to ensure quality throughout your business. It can help you reduce the risk of food hygiene issues and control hazards before they become severe problems.

There are many benefits of adopting HACCP including;

  • Increasing levels of food safety standards
  • Improving food quality
  • Organises your production more effectively
  • Promotes teamwork
  • Provides defence and evidence of due diligence
  • Can save your business money
  • Ensures compliance with food hygiene legislation
  • Keeps your customers safe.

CaterSafe Consultants HACCP Training in Kent

At CaterSafe Consultants we focus on our HACCP training for food manufacturing. We offer a Level 2, 3 and 4 Award for HACCP For Manufacturing. We can provide training at your place of work for convenience. With the training, individuals will learn all of the principles of HACCP and be able to manage food safety.

Level Two – This course takes one day and covers all of the duties of HACCP to make an efficient and effective operation of your food manufacturing business.

Level Three – This course will provide a regulated qualification that complies with the industry standard. With five days of training, the participants can work towards achieving a qualification that is recognised by environmental health practitioners.

Level Four – The ideal course for management of food manufacturing business. This course allows the learner to think critically about HACCP in their organisation for continuous improvement. This course also takes five days.

Why HACCP course is right for you?

If you are not sure which HACCP course is right for you and your organisation, get in touch with CaterSafe Consultants for your free consultation. Call the training team now on 01233 822 201.

Food Safety Training In Kent

For businesses that handle food, then food safety training is essential. Many organisations do not realise the importance of food handling training. In fact, the law requires that staff handling food need proper food safety training. To help your business comply, CaterSafe Consultants offer online and classroom courses for food safety training in Kent.

Why does your business need food safety training in Kent?

For any business that handles food, the government has set up stringent requirements that you need to follow. In fact, all food businesses must provide suitable and relevant training for any staff that handle food. As well as this, the government also requires staff to have instructions, supervision and training in food hygiene.

It is important to note that this training, is not a specific course run by the government. You can provide training to your staff through self-study, on-the-job training or through previous experience. However, when you are working as a team, it is often best for everyone to receive the same high standard of food safety training in Kent.

What food safety training in Kent does my business need?

While you must provide and staff that handle food with training, you can modify this training to best suit your needs. For example, caterers will often require different food safety training compared to retailers. Furthermore, those who handle food through logistics will need different training for those who prepare food in production units and factories.

CaterSafe Consultants tailor our training to suit your business needs. We offer both online and classroom course to best suit the requirements of your team and the convenience for your business. We provide a range of food safety courses such as Food Safety In Manufacturing and Food Safety for Retail. However your business handles food, we can tailor our training for you.

Looking for food safety training in Kent?

Get in touch with our friendly team at Catersafe Consultants, and we will gladly find the right course for your business needs. Call now for a free consultation on 01233 822 201.

Chefs working

If you are a business owner or manager in the food industry, what would be top of your list for ensuring success and setting you apart from the rest?  The best menu, the best food or products, the newest techniques, the best décor, the best staff, the best location? Perhaps a combination of all of them or perhaps you really do lead the field in one or two and you’re a pioneering force within the industry.  But what about food safety?  Where does that feature in your list of priorities?

Food Business Operators have a legal, moral and commercial obligation to ensure the food they are producing is safe, and will not cause harm, injury or illness. With regulations and laws increasing and becoming ever tighter, good food safety procedures and training are imperative to the success of any business.  Whatever your field, inspections by your local authority are mandatory and your food safety processes will be subject to close scrutiny.

Most businesses providing food to the public will come under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme whereby, based on the results of an inspection, you are given a hygiene rating of 0 to 5, with 5 being the highest and 0 being the lowest.  Although you might choose not to display the certificate in your window if you get a lower rating, all results are available on the Food Standards Agency website, so there is nowhere to hide.

Inspectors seek to ensure that you are creating food and food products that are safe to eat.  It won’t just be the end goods they’re looking at but the whole chain of events from its inception to the final product and all the equipment, processes, procedures, methods and systems in between.

Inspectors will also look at your advertising and product descriptions.  Are you labelling your food, your menus and products accurately or are you being deliberately ambiguous and hoodwinking customers?  Alternatively, you could be unaware that you are misleading customers and need guidance.

If you fall short in any area, inspectors will not be forgiving and enforcement officers have the power to take a number of different actions, depending on the severity of the problem.  A best case scenario would be a ‘hygiene improvement notice’ where you would have to ensure you changed certain procedures in order to meet with government standards and law.  A worst case scenario would be for them to recommend prosecution which could lead to a fine, being banned from the food industry or even imprisonment.

With such rigorous regulations, excellent food safety practices need to be in place and all staff should be trained, either to a basic or more advanced level, depending on their level of responsibility and involvement in the production process.  You can choose to improve your business by updating your décor, changing the tablecloths, updating your menu or hiring more staff but these are choices that you have the luxury of making or not making.  Food safety is not an optional extra like any of these might be, rather, it is an absolute essential to the success and safety of your business.

Remember however, that as important as compliance is, it is not an end in itself, but rather a means to an end. (Otherwise it can end-up as a mere ‘box ticking’ exercise which in the end is counter-productive). Ultimately, the most important reason Food Business Operators must take food safety seriously, is for the safety and wellbeing of their customers. That should always be the starting point. This involves:

– Protecting food from all types of contamination

– Preventing harmful bacteria from multiplying in food

– Destroying any harmful bacteria through correct processing and thorough cooking

– Disposing of any contaminated, unfit and/or suspect food.

Finally, and very importantly, managers, supervisors and team leaders can massively help implement standards and maintain a good food safety culture if they lead by example and put into practice what they preach. Hypocrisy is a big turn-off. A manager who takes a ‘maverick approach’ to food safety, or is sloppy, will often find that their staff are too – and in reality, to a greater degree.

Here are just some of the many benefits in taking food safety seriously and promoting a good food safety culture

– Reduced risk of food poisoning

– Satisfied customers

– Good reputation

– Peace of mind

– Hygienic working conditions, which leads to increased staff morale

– Legal compliance.

On the other hand, here are some of the costs of poor food safety practices

– Food poisoning and/or food safety incidents

– Increased complaints

– Poor reputation

– Less profitability

– Low staff morale

– Legal action / fines

– Imprisonment

– Closure of the business.


Catersafe Consultants have a wide range of training available from eLearning to a trainer coming to your premises to train you and your staff.  We pride ourselves on thorough and comprehensive training, equipping you to put in place procedures which will ensure the highest standards; standards which are crucial to your business.  Get in touch – we’d love to help you achieve those standards and be a leader in your industry.

Check out our eLearning course on how to achieve a maximum Food Hygiene Rating for your food business! Sign up for a free trial today!

Acrylamide mitigation for food safety

We’ve all done it. We’ve popped the bread in the toaster and gone away and forgotten about it. The next thing we know, the smoke alarm’s going off and our toast resembles a lump of charcoal. Some of us will consign it to the dustbin, but others adhere to the old adage, waste not want not, and continue to consume it, attempting to overcome the burnt flavour with lashings of their favoured topping.

For years, there have been rumours circulating that burnt toast is carcinogenic but, realistically, is there any evidence for this?

Studies have shown that a chemical called acrylamide is formed naturally when starchy foods are cooked at high temperatures (anything above 120˚C). Food items that this applies to are potatoes in various forms, e.g. roast, chips, crisps etc., bread and some cereal products. The sugars in the foods react with naturally occurring amino acids when exposed to high temperatures to form acrylamide.

Scientists tested the impact of acrylamide on rodents and it was found that exposure to the chemical increased the risk of developing several types of cancer quite significantly. As a consequence of these results, food scientists are concerned that this evidence indicates there is a potential cancer risk to humans. There are a few caveats to this, however. It should be noted that the rodents were subjected to exceptionally large doses of the chemical, doses which would be far greater than any amount contained in your Sunday roast potatoes or a bag of crisps, for example. Studies in humans are still incomplete and are, at present, inconclusive. It is impossible to say that a chemical will affect animals and humans in exactly the same way so the results must be considered rationally and cautiously, but it is sensible to pay attention to the scientific findings and take some precautions.

This year, the Food Standards Agency has launched a campaign called, ‘Go for gold’. Contrary to how it might sound, they are not encouraging people to enter the Olympics, but have issued guidelines on how to attain the optimum shade of gold when cooking your starchy foods. With any form of cooking, whether it be frying, roasting or toasting, the goal should be to achieve a light golden colour. Cooking starchy food for too long and at too high a temperature will increase the amount of acrylamide. They also advise against keeping potatoes in the fridge as this can cause the sugars to multiply, thus raising the amount of acrylamide in the end product once cooked. Always check the guidelines on the packet when cooking things like oven chips. The food industry is attempting to do what it can to reduce the acrylamide concentrations in food so it would be prudent to follow their cooking guidelines.

It is easy to be alarmed by these reports about such staple fixtures of our diets, but it is important to remember that the studies on humans are inconclusive and that the risk is not yet substantiated. The Food Standards Agency recommends that a balanced and moderate diet including your standard 5 a day will help reduce the risk of cancer. Let moderation be our watchword and maybe that piece of toast really should just go in the bin.


Here is a video from the Food Standards Agency with some basic information on Acrylamide and their ‘Go for Gold’ Campaign.

A few weeks ago, ASDA were fined £300,000 for food safety breaches, but specifically for the abysmal lack of pest control, after dead mice and flies were discovered in the aisles of one of their home delivery depots which distributes food to online shoppers across London and Essex.

All food businesses are susceptible to pest infestations and pest harbourage and any pest infestation is a very serious problem, which does not just affect the profitability of your business – but which has potentially serious financial, moral and legal ramifications. It is worth noting that food premises have been closed down by environmental health officers due to an infestation of, or failure to control, pests.

Therefore it is absolutely vital to ensure that your food business has adequate pest-proofing in place and that products are safeguarded from contamination and defilement from pests.

Simply put, a food pest is any animal, insect or bird that can contaminate food, both physically (from fur, droppings or feathers) and microbiologically. As well as damage to products, food pests such as cockroaches and rodents carry a number of harmful diseases, which can be transmitted in various ways. For example by direct contact, scratches, or ingesting food or drink contaminated by them. Moreover, a number of rats carry bacteria called Leptospirosis (which can develop into Weil’s disease) which if left untreated in humans can kill.

It is therefore imperative that food pests are kept out!

Remember, it is much easier and simpler to stop pests from entering in the first place, than to deal with an infestation once it’s taken hold. As with most problems, prevention in the first instance is better than the cure. It is therefore important to make sure that appropriate controls are put in place to avoid an infestation of food pests.


Here are some very basic control measures to observe:

  • Firstly, always ensure you have an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system in place. This involves monitoring, prevention and control. This would normally be done in conjunction with a competent person / professional pest control contractor.
  • Make sure all windows in food rooms and food areas are ‘fly screened’.
  • Always check deliveries for signs of pests or pest activity. Reject deliveries if you have any evidence of contamination or harbourage.
  • Always store delivered goods in pest-proof containers and always off the floor.
  • Make sure the premises are well maintained and designed in such a way as to prevent entry of food pests.
  • Ensure that no ‘daylight’ can be seen below or around external doors.


Here is a video from the Food Standards Agency aimed at small food businesses:

Beef burger in a toasted burger bun

The trend in serving and eating undercooked or rare burgers has greatly increased in the past several years within the UK. Various outlets and restaurant chains offer rare or undercooked burgers as an option to their customers. From the 1st March 2017, new regulations came into force, stating that all businesses supplying minced meat products or other meat preparations, which are intended to be served less than thoroughly cooked, now need to acquire approval by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) or by their Local Authority to do so. The new regulations take effect following on from a consultation period by the FSA, and will apply to any business offering anything less than fully cooked burgers. Any food establishment wishing to serve less than thoroughly cooked burgers will now need to obtain verification from their butcher or meat supplier that they are approved. This requirement will be applicable in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Food service businesses should not see this requirement as yet more ‘regulation’ and ‘red tape’, but rather this should be viewed as a positive step, particularly as it will ultimately ensure a higher level of control and consumer protection – particularly from pathogens such as E. coli O157 and Salmonella. Every year there are around 900 recorded cases of E.coli poisoning.

The main reason why undercooking burgers has been traditionally frowned upon is because bacteria tends to be found on the surface of meat. When raw meat is minced, the bacteria prevalent on the surface is then mixed all the way through. This is why up until now the consistent advice from the FSA (with regards to cooking burgers) is to ensure they are thoroughly cooked to the accepted core temperature and time of 70°C for 2 minutes or 75°C for 30 seconds, as advised by the ACMSF (Advisory Committee on Microbiological Safety of Food). This still remains the safest and simplest option. However, the FSA have also acknowledged that “the risk from rare burgers served in catering establishments is not so unacceptable as to justify removing the adult consumer’s right to choose to eat it, provided a validated and verified food safety management is applied”.

What to do if you are serving rare or undercooked burgers

If you are a food service business choosing to sell, or exploring the possibility of serving less than thoroughly cooked burgers, you must ensure that you have a validated and verified Food Safety Management System (FSMS) in place, which includes the FSA control measures summarised below:

  • Your meat must be sourced from premises that are approved under EU law to supply minced meat intended to be eaten uncooked or lightly cooked
  • Your meat supplier needs to have sampling and testing systems in place that will identify pathogens including Salmonella and E. coli O157
  • Businesses must identify how the burgers would be prepared and cooked, i.e. how the minced meat would be cooked to reduce the possibility of 100,000 E. coli to a maximum of 10 E. coli after cooking. • Stringent temperature control to prevent the growth of bacteria along with safe and hygienic storage, preparation and cooking procedures, must be in place and followed.
  • Evidence that cooking times and temperatures have been monitored correctly and recorded accurately.
  • Provide clear and unambiguous consumer advice on menus, which lay out the additional risk from burgers which are not thoroughly cooked.
  • The FSA still maintain that children and other vulnerable people such as the elderly or pregnant women should only be served burgers that are thoroughly cooked.

Slower cooking methods

It is perfectly acceptable to cook burgers at lower temperatures. The general principle is that when you cook at lower temperatures you must extend the cooking time in order to reduce the risk of pathogens surviving. Here are some tested examples of temperatures and cooking times for low temperature cooking:

60°C for 93 minutes

65°C for 14 minutes

Bear in mind that a lot depends on the size and thickness of the burger, but based on current data, the above temperatures, if applied to their corresponding length of time, will reduce the numbers of vegetative pathogens to safe levels. It is worth remembering that some thermotolerant bacteria may grow at marginal cooking temperatures. For example, when slow cooking a product that may contain Clostridium Perfringens at temperatures of 52ºC or below, this introduces the risk of this organism multiplying to levels that would constitute a risk to the consumer.


Final notes

When monitoring temperatures, always ensure you use a calibrated and disinfected temperature probe. Always check that when taking the temperature the tip of the probe is in the very centre of the burger. Many times we observe chefs probing food where the tip of the probe is touching the tray, not the core of the product.

If you are a food business serving, or looking to serve rare burgers, and would like to talk to someone about the new regulations or would like some advice, please contact CaterSafe today.

beardAs the popular TV programme, Great British Bake Off, returned to our television screens last week, a number of irate viewers took to social media in order to protest about some of the excessive hair on display by some of the show’s contestants.

I was approached by the Daily Mail for an expert opinion on the food safety practices of the show, but particularly pertaining to viewers concerns over excessive facial hair exhibited by some of the programme’s contestants.

Firstly, I would like to say that I do not know any of the contestants personally. Neither am I against “Great British Bake Off”, individual expression, beards per se, or against anyone who chooses to wear them. My observations and comments are solely in relation to beards and facial hair within the context of food safety and food hygiene.

When I started my career as a commis chef back in the mid-nineties, beards were out of fashion, most of my colleagues were clean shaven. Those who were not clean shaven might have sported a small goatee or discreet box beard. In recent years, however, the full beard has enjoyed somewhat of a comeback. More and more male celebrities are sporting a full beard and consequently this has led to a huge rise in younger men growing and maintaining a beard, and as such, this has now become a topical issue and subject of debate among food safety professionals, caterers and the general public alike.

What’s the big deal?

Some people have argued that there is no difference between having a long beard and long hair. But that is just the point! If I order a meal, and the chef has a long beard, just the same as if the chef had long hair, I would expect the chef to keep their beard and hair under wraps. That is a perfectly logical and reasonable request. I’m not insisting that all male chefs and cooks are clean shaven! What I am saying is that if a chef chooses to wear a long beard, then as with long hair, they should keep it covered. Within food manufacturing, snoods are common practice.

Generally speaking, the public perception is that beards are dirty! If a chef who is preparing my food, has a long beard then I would expect it to be covered – and here’s why:

Long beards tend to encourage scratching and fondling (which soon can become a subconscious habit). Scratching and frequent itching can subsequently cause loose hairs to fall out into food. Furthermore, pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus; which are prevalent on human skin, nose, throat and hair, can then be transferred onto food, introducing both a physical and microbiological food safety hazard.

At CaterSafe Consultants, our client base is diverse, and range from small pubs and restaurants to supermarkets and large corporate organisations. Organisational requirements vary. Some of our clients will insist that their male members of staff are clean shaven; others do not have much of an issue with well-groomed, small beards, but frown upon excessive facial hair. Some business owners believe it to be a non-issue. In reality, it comes down to what is best practice. The question we should be asking is, “what is best for our customers?” Consumers rightly expect the food they eat to not only to be of a high standard – but ultimately, food which is prepared, cooked and finished by clean food handlers, to be safe to eat and free from contaminants, whatever those contaminants maybe. It is vital that we do not jettison hygiene for vanity – the vanity of the chef should not take precedence over the safety and enjoyment of the food. The safety of the food is always the axiom, and starting point for everything.

We need to recognise that some people have to grow a beard, perhaps because of sensitive skin, which makes shaving impossible for some men. But there is a difference between a short, well-trimmed beard, and a beard which is long and unkempt. In every instance common sense should always prevail.

Cookery TV programmes?

Some people have commented on the fact that the food produced on the BBC TV show, Great British Bake Off, isn’t offered for sale to the general public, and that such programmes are just a bit of fun and are supposed to be light entertainment. This is true to a point, and a dichotomy exists between food for public and domestic consumption, and amateur bakers baking for fun on a TV programme and those baking or cooking in the commercial sector. The problem is that the majority of viewers do not make this distinction. The exponential rise in TV cookery programmes within the last decade has made the potential access to good food more achievable to everyone. However, that is just the point. Cookery shows are not merely entertainment – they are also educational, therefore the hygiene practices carried out on these shows must be of the highest standard possible. It is not acceptable to ignore good food safety practices or be cavalier with food hygiene on the grounds of entertainment; most people take their cue from, and imitate what they see on TV, this particular form of mass media carries a lot of weight. Winking at poor hygiene practices does send out the wrong message.

During my career, I have worked as a professional chef, and now, as an educator and specialist trainer of chefs and food safety consultant. One of the frequent problems that I encounter is students with a poor attitude to food hygiene practice. Many have adopted bad habits from watching “celebrity” chefs on the TV and think that good food is all about taste and presentation, not the welfare of the person that is expected to eat it. It’s paramount that good hygiene practices should be demonstrated by chefs and contestants on TV as their behaviour does influence viewers.


It is vital that chefs take pride in their appearance. An unkempt, untidy appearance often reflects a slovenly attitude, which can extend into other areas, including food preparation, storage, and temperature control. Having a large beard really is not an issue, provided it is washed, well groomed, and covered with a snood whilst preparing food.

Listen to Sam Turner’s light hearted exchange with popular American bearded chef Timmy Malloy and presenter Stephen Nolan on BBC Radio 5 Live.