Not all food hygiene courses are created the same!

posted by Adam Briggs

It's often said that the food served can make or break the charter. Undoubtedly this can put a lot of pressure on a yacht’s chef and supporting galley staff to perform at their best and provide guests with an experience they will never forget. Of course, this isn't always plain sailing so it's important to make sure the crew involved have sufficient training to ensure the unforgettable memories are for the right reasons!

The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) regulations require all crew processing food in the galley in any capacity (from Chefs to Stews and even Deck Crew) to be suitably qualified in food hygiene or food safety. While the MLC regulations are only applicable to commercial yachts, Sarnia Yachts recommend to our clients that these requirements are also considered as best practice on private yachts.

This is achieved via a food hygiene course covering subjects such as the safe handling and storage of food and provisions onboard ships as well as the relevant legislation involved. For the purposes of yacht crew the level 2 certificate is considered a minimum level of qualification and levels 3 and 4 are seen as more advanced.

While there are numerous level 2 food hygiene certificates available, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)  has issued a list of approved courses from a small number of awarding bodies including Ofqual, The Royal Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and The Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland.

The MCA stipulates that only approved training centres providing training in-person are deemed acceptable, and purely computer-based training courses are not recognised by them. A small number of providers implemented a "virtual classroom" to continue to operate during the COVID-19 restrictions and while these certificates remain acceptable in-person training is still very much the norm.

The full details of approved training courses and providers can be found in the MCA MIN 671 which is updated annually. This notice also provides details of the courses that have been discontinued but would still be deemed acceptable if the relevant certificate was issued before the noted course end date.

As well as being a requirement for all catering staff onboard a yacht the food hygiene certificates (with in-person training) are also one of the requirements for the Ships' Cook Certificate of Competency. The Ships' Cook CoC is generally only required where there are 10 or more crew onboard the yacht, however the requirements for this can vary slightly between different flag states.

With the trend of increasingly large yachts and crew numbers, this qualification is becoming vitally important for any chef looking to progress in the industry. The Ships' Cook CoC includes both theory and practical assessments ranging from cultural dietary requirements, kitchen management and budgeting to gutting and filleting fish, cooking eggs and baking pastries. Full details of the MCA Ships' Cook CoC requirements can be found here.

If you have any concerns about your qualifications or those of your crew on yachts of any size or flag state Sarnia Yachts’ Crewing, Yacht Management or Ownership services are on hand and ready to assist.

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