As part of my preparation for the business I booked myself onto a Food Hygiene course. Apparently, having this certificate is not mandatory, there is no legal requirement for me to have it! Of course it looks good if you do and it turns out a lot of markets etc will ask to see it as part of vetting you. I also felt that it would help me work out what I need to do to my kitchen to make it ready for inspection by the local environmental health officers.
I found a course at my local adult education college in Peckham, a CIEH (Chartered Institute of Environmental Health) Level 2 course in Food Hygiene in Catering. A two day course over two weeks, 5 hours each day with an exam and a certificate (if the exam is passed, of course) at the end. There are a lot of providers out there and just a simple search on the web brings up hundreds of options. This one seemed like a good one and it is local, about a 30 minute walk from home. It costs £58 for the two days.
The first day was last Friday and I don’t mind saying I was a little bit nervous as I walked over to the college. I haven’t done any formal learning for a long time and this was a whole new world of food hygiene. I am a trained nurse (I trained straight out of school and practised for about 12 years) so there is some knowledge about the subject deep down in the recesses of my brain, hopefully. As it turned out I didn’t need to be nervous, it was relatively painless.
It’s always interesting to see who attends these sort of courses, why everyone else is doing it. There were five other people (all women) there and four of them needed the certificate for child minding and one for her catering business. And me for my cakes. Our tutor was Danish and a strict timekeeper! If you weren’t in the room when he said he would start and you would miss out, he kept to his word too and three of the students missed the first 5 minutes of one of the sessions. Their attitude was interesting, they felt aggrieved that he had started without them even though he did warn them. I was a model student, of course! But then I can’t bear to be late for anything.
A lot of the course is fairly common sense, some science, law and temperatures. Lots about temperatures, disinfection temperature (82C), the danger zone (between 5C and 63C) and many more. At the end of the day I felt a bit deflated as I worried about how to do all this in a domestic kitchen, overwhelmed with all the information and things that have to be translated into my kitchen. But other people do it so it can’t be too hard and once I have completed the course I can then attack the kitchen and get it ship shape.
The second day is this Friday and the exam is in the last hour, 30 multiple choice questions of which you need to get 20 correct to pass. Hopefully after studying my course book this week I will pass with flying colours. I will update you after Friday.