The Finnish food hygiene passport has been created to promote food safety
The appropriate food hygiene proficiency among employees is a statutory obligation in the EU for food sector companies. This hygiene proficiency must also be demonstrated in some way. Finland therefore created a national hygiene proficiency system based on EU legislation in 2002, which assesses the level of food hygiene proficiency through a special proficiency test. Proficiency tests are arranged and hygiene passports issued by proficiency examiners approved by the Finnish Food Authority.
In Finland, this obligation to demonstrate proficiency by way of the hygiene passport is statutory and applies to food sector employees who deal with easily perishable unpacked foodstuffs on food premises. Food sector operators are responsible for fulfilling this requirement, at their own expense, with regard to their employees as part of self-supervision. Food control authorities supervise operators’ compliance with the procedure and the relevant documentation.
The proficiency test evaluates skills and knowledge in the following areas:
- Basic knowledge of microbiology and food contamination
- Food poisoning, hygienic working practices
- Personal hygiene
- Own check
- Legislation, the authorities.
The Hygiene Passport system has been a success story and has achieved huge popularity in Finland. More than 1,100,000 hygiene passports (covering about 20% of the total population) have been issued in Finland. This is well above the number for whom legislation would require a hygiene passport due to employment. Many food companies have expanded the requirement for hygiene passports on their own accord, to apply to all food employees within the company. This reflects the keen interest among Finns in clean and safe food and is a clear indication of the solid food hygiene proficiency of Finnish food industry employees.