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Mastering food hygiene in basic education

The website is the result of the hygiene passport project in the Food and Nutrition Programme of the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. The material is the first, practice-oriented package of elective subjects designed for comprehensive and upper secondary school instruction that enables a student to obtain a hygiene proficiency certificate of the Finnish Food Safety Authority.


The material available on the Internet is the first, practice-oriented package of elective subjects designed for comprehensive and upper secondary school instruction that enables a student to obtain a hygiene proficiency certificate, or hygiene passport, of the Finnish Food Safety Authority (Evira). The hygiene passport improves the employment potential of young people in the food industry. The material also provides skills for safe food handling at home.

The electronic study material contains basic information on the importance of food hygiene in different stages of food production, from fields to tables, and also deepens the students’ understanding of the operations of the entire foodstuff chain. The material also prepares the student for taking Evira’s official hygiene proficiency test. Tests can be organised and proficiency certificates issued by hygiene proficiency examiners approved by Evira.

“All schools will have an opportunity to offer instruction packages of elective subjects in accordance with the curriculum. The package is particularly suitable for home economics instruction. It can be taught, for example, as a package of one weekly lesson per year or as part of the home economics specialisation or applied syllabus. The subject area also integrates with the teaching of health education and biology”, says Senior Adviser Marjaana Manninen of the Finnish National Board of Education.

In addition to the basic information, the material contains a teacher’s guide and complete instruction slides. The guide serves as support material for the teacher and as an introduction to teaching the subject. The numerous links to reference materials and literature relevant to the topic, available in the materials, also help in familiarising oneself with the new elective subject package.

Extensive cooperation behind the material

The material, an end result of the hygiene passport project in the Food and Nutrition programme (ERA) of the Finnish Innovation Fund (Sitra), is the brainchild of experts from a number of cooperation partners: the Finnish Food Safety Authority (Evira), the Finnish National Board of Education, the Federation of Home Economics Teachers, the Finnish Food and Drink Industries’ Federation, and Finfood.

“With the help of these cooperation partners, we can bring the subject area as close to the student as possible. Home economics teachers will teach the subject in schools, and those students who want to complement the course by taking the hygiene passport test can do so through hygiene proficiency examiners approved by Evira”, says Project Manager Markku Mikola of the Food and Nutrition Programme of Sitra.

“The instruction, complete with visits to businesses, brings the operations of the food industry closer to the student’s everyday life. The materials will also be brought to schools by means of the Finfood Ruokaa ja Rakkautta (Food and Love) campaign. This ensures that we meet our objective regarding developing and implementing concepts that promote good health”, adds Mikola.

Young people interested in the hygiene passport

The hygiene passport is a requirement for all employees who handle unpackaged, easily-spoiled food in spaces for foodstuffs. Evira issues approximately 60,000 hygiene proficiency certificates, or hygiene passports, per year. So far, over half a million passports have been issued.

“Although short-term summer jobs do not necessarily require hygiene proficiency certificates, it seems like an increasing number of employers do want them. If a young person already has a passport in their pocket, it will be easier for the employer to select and hire an employee who already possesses sufficient basic skills”, says Chief Inspector Ville Kekkonen of Evira.

Practical experience integrated with content

The authors of the materials have extensive experience in running the hygiene passport courses in schools and in businesses. The content was authored by M.Sc. Marja Laukkanen, a food hygiene instructor and education content author at SEFO-konsultointi. The teacher’s guide was authored by Anne Karjalainen, a home economics teacher at the Korpitie school in Paltamo, who also brought into the project her experience of schools and teaching the courses to students. The cooperation project was coordinated by Elina Antila, a Communications Consultant at Kuule Oy.

“For many students, obtaining the hygiene passport is the most important reason for selecting this kind of an elective subject. My interest in teaching the subject was originally kindled by the students’ request and their need to obtain the hygiene passport. Now we can use ready-made materials in teaching. Grapevine seems to be the best channel for marketing, too. Students are proud of their passports, and they simply want to have one. Of course many of them do need the passport for their workplace or for their further education in the food industry”, says Anne Karjalainen.

The layout and illustrations of the material as well as the online functions were created by Laura Vainio, Linda Praulina and Mikko Laajola.

More information (in finnish)

Project Manager Markku Mikola, Sitra, Food and Nutrition Programme, tel. +358 (0)9 6189 9235 or +358 (0)40 771 8030,
Chief Inspector Ville Kekkonen, Evira, tel. +358 (0)2077 24320,
Consultant Marja Laukkanen, SEFO-konsultointi, tel. +358 (0)50 563 5811,
Home economics teacher Anne Karjalainen, Korpitie School, Paltamo, tel. +358 (0)50 544 4127,
Communications Consultant Elina Antila, Kuule Oy, tel. +358 (0)40 548 3838,