Mandatory triennial medical certificate for food handlers abolished


The medical certificate for food handler is no longer mandatory since 11 August 2018. As a result, employees who handle bulk of semi-packaged food products are no longer required to undergo a medical check every three years. Regular training on risks and good practices appears to have more impact.

The medical certificate for food handlers is designed to prevent employees, who come in direct contact with food, from transmitting a contagious disease and thus infecting the food chain.

However, a medical examination is nothing but a snapshot of someone’s health situation and a doctor cannot always detect all diseases. A triennial medical certificate is therefore not useful, such was the conclusion of the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC/FAVV). The medical certificate requirement has therefore been scraped by a Royal Decree, now in force since August 11th.

Training on food hygiene

In a joint opinion paper with the Superior Health Council, the FASFC/FAVV recommends regular training on good hygiene practices for people who come into contact with food.

Raising awareness has an extremely positive impact on the protection of the food chain. Appropriate and regular training for people who handle food in the food sector therefore has much more impact than a three-yearly certificate, according to the agency.

Collective labour agreement or Royal Decree?

Shortly before publication of the Royal Decree abolishing the medical certificate, a collective labour agreement (CLA) was concluded by the social partners of the food industry that seemed to retain the certificate obtained following a medical examination. In the legal hierarchy, however, a CLA is subordinate to a Royal Decree. In other words, the decision to waive the certificate remains unaffected.

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