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An online training course for enforcement officers, developed by the Food Standards Agency

Welcome to the Agency's online training course about vacuum packing and modified atmosphere packing of food. This course aims to give local authority food law enforcement officers that are responsible for food hygiene a basic understanding of the vacuum packing processes and the importance of microbiological safety in their use. The course might also be of interest to anyone wanting to learn more about Clostridium botulinum and food safety.

This course is divided into four modules. You can work through each of the modules or select particular ones according to existing knowledge and/or interest. At the end of each module is a short multiple choice test.

Disclaimer: While we try to ensure that the content of the course is accurate, updates can be delayed, and the course may refer to out-of-date legislation. Therefore, users should take reasonable and appropriate precautions to check references.

Course plan

Module 1

Module 1:

Hazards, issues and their control

View module 1

Module 2

Module 2:

Epidemiology of Clostridium botulinum

View module 2

Module 3

Module 3:

Control factors

View module 3

Module 4

Module 4:


View module 4

Course objectives

The training content includes information on the hazards associated with vacuum packing and modified atmosphere packing, the causes and growth of Clostridium botulinum and the control factors that can be used to prevent is growth and toxin production. The course also gives general advice to enforcement officers with food safety concerns in relation to vacuum packing processes.

The course is intended as a refresher or update. All food law enforcement officers should have covered microbiological hazards and methods of food preservation in their pre-qualification training.

The training aims to:

  • Provide a reminder of the microbiological safety issues associated with vacuum packing.
  • Provide a basic understanding of the interaction of water activity (aw), salt, the acidity or alkalinity of a solution (the pH level), preservatives and their effects on the stability of vacuum packed products.
  • Consider the enforcement options available when faced with concerns over the safety and integrity of a vacuum packing process.

Sources of information

Current concerns with chilled foods

Chilled vacuum packing and modified atmosphere packaging products: key food safety issues

Revised guidance on vacuum and modified atmosphere packing

Cleaning vacuum packing equipment

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

To register, give your first name and surname (the FSA will only use this information to generate your personalised CPD certificate) as well as your email address (this will only be used if you need to reset your password).