Food safety officers

Qualifying as a Food Safety Practitioner

Our qualifications will help you gain everything you need to work in food hygiene, fitness and standards.

Registered Food Safety Practitioner sample digital credentialFood safety officers ensure that our food is safe to eat and labelled and handled properly. They provide assurance along the food chain from farm to fork.

Local authorities are responsible for enforcing food law and their officers can inspect businesses at any point in the food production and distribution process. Many businesses also employ food safety experts to ensure that they are complying with the law and operating at a high standard.

The Food Law Codes of Practice set out the qualification and competency requirements for local authority officers responsible for enforcing food law across the UK.

Working in food safety requires a combination of knowledge and practical skills. Our food qualifications will help you to gain everything you need to work as a food safety officer. They are recognised by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as suitable qualifications to deliver food official controls and will also enable you to become a Registered Food Safety Practitioner.

Registered Food Safety Practitioners are accredited by CIEH and have passed a rigorous assessment of their skills and competence. In addition to being listed on a formal register, they can also use a digital credential to formally demonstrate and verify their professional status.

Frequently asked questions

More information for existing candidates, employers and people interested in becoming food safety officers is in our FAQ document.

The Higher Certificate in Food Control is recognised as a suitable qualification in the Food Law Codes of Practice for officers employed to deliver food hygiene and food standards official controls.

To gain the certificate you will need to undertake an academic course at one of our providers. This can include our accredited BSc and MSc environmental health degrees and apprenticeships as well as the standalone courses offered by:

University of Birmingham
Course leader: Iain Ferris
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Coventry University
Course leader: Mary-Jane Hawkes
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You will also need to demonstrate the application of the knowledge you have gained on the course in a workplace setting. The process for doing this is the Competency Development Portfolio and Professional Discussion and more details of these are provided below.

Candidates must pass a practical exam in Food Identification. The food identification exam is included in the standalone courses listed above. If you are seeking qualification through the BSc/MSc. Environmental Health degree route, please enquire with your course provider to see if they offer it. If they do not offer the exam, you will have to undertake it separately at a certified provider.

We also accredit the Higher Certificate in Food Premises Inspection qualification at NESCOT.

Candidates who wish to register or submit the logbook for either the Higher Certificate in Food Control or Higher Certificate in Food Premises Inspection should contact us. This also applies for people who are pursuing the logbook route who wish to sit their professional interview.

Please be advised that this Professional Interview is for those who have undertaken and passed the CIEH Higher Certificate Logbook.

This assessment is not for those undertaking the CDP Programme.

Deadline Professional Interview Date
9 February 2023 16 - 17 March 2023
10 August 2023 14 - 15 September 2023

The Advanced Professional Certificate in Food Hygiene and Standards Control (APC-Food) is our new qualification for those providing assurance that our food is safe and is what it says it is, including those delivering food official controls.

APC-Food builds on and modernises the Higher Certificate in Food Control. Suitable for those working in the public and private sector, it includes food safety and food standards material, enabling a holistic approach to assessing food business compliance.

To gain this certificate you will need to undertake an academic course at one of our accredited providers. We will publish details of these soon and expect them to include our accredited BSc and MSc degrees, as well as standalone courses.

Candidates must pass a practical exam in Food Identification. If you are seeking qualification through the BSc./MSc. Environmental Health degree route, please enquire with your course provider to see if they offer it. If they do not offer the exam, you will have to undertake it separately at a certified provider.

You will also need to demonstrate the application of the knowledge you have gained on the course in a workplace setting. The process for doing this is the Competency Development Portfolio and Professional Discussion and more details of these are provided below.

The Competency Development Portfolio (CDP) is your opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge and skills you have gained on your accredited course in practice in a workplace setting.

The CDP consists of three case studies, two investigation reports and two short narratives, undertaken over a six-month period.

While completing your CDP you will need to be supported by a workplace supervisor assigned by your employer.

The CDP will be signed off by your employer and then submitted to CIEH and used as the basis for your Professional Discussion. At your Professional Discussion, you will be asked to give a 15-minute presentation based on your CDP. This presentation should be submitted to CIEH in advance once you have been given your Professional Discussion date.

The registration fee for the CDP is £613 during 2022. This also includes the cost of the Professional Discussion and certification.

Further information:

You can submit your completed CDP six months after enrolment, if you wish to attend a particular Professional Discussion session, please note the dates and the corresponding deadlines:

Deadline Professional Discussion dates
17 January 2023 28 February - 2 March 2023
2 May 2023 13 - 15 June 2023
26 September 2023 7 - 9 November 2023

The CDP must be complete and signed off by your employer before you apply for the Professional Discussion assessment. After you have applied for the Professional Discussion, CIEH will provide details of how to upload your CDP for review. Once the CDP has been reviewed and is considered satisfactory, CIEH will confirm your attendance for the Professional Discussion. It may take up to four weeks for your portfolio to be reviewed.

The Professional Discussion (PD) is the final gateway assessment for both the HCFC and APC-Food.

It is a face-to-face conversation (which could be conducted by video conference) about your Competency Development Portfolio and related issues.

Successful candidates will be awarded the Higher Certificate in Food Control or Advanced Professional Certificate in Food Hygiene and Standards Control as appropriate. Holders of these certificates may be authorised by their employers to deliver official controls subject to a competency assessment. We will keep a Register of Practitioners who qualify via these routes.

NB: Candidates wishing to sit the interview for the Higher Certificate in Food Premises Inspection or Higher Certificate in Food Control should contact [email protected].

Further information about the different pathways to Registration and the requirements for each can be found in our Pathways to Registration diagram.

Pathways to Registration

Find out how to become professionally Registered based on your skills and career plans.

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Chartered Practitioner programme

This route is designed to develop highly competent professionals able to protect the health and wellbeing of people and communities.

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