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Food Competent Certifying Officers

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Working on behalf of APHA as an FCCO and the requirements

Food Competent Certifying Officer (FCCO) is a Certifying Officer that has competencies to operate official controls under the Food Act and means a person deployed by a competent authority, either as staff or otherwise, and who is appropriately qualified to perform official controls and other official activities in accordance with the Official Controls Regulation (2017/625), and any other relevant rules.

The Policy for Authorisation of FCCO by the Animal and Plant Health Agency in Great Britain (ET209) sets out the relationship between FCCOs and APHA as the competent authority responsible for their authorisation. All FCCOs must be familiar with the content of this document and should take time to read it.

Working as an FCCO

FCCO's are authorised by and act on behalf of APHA and must be employed by a Local Authority (LA) or Food Standards Scotland (FSS).

FCCOs act on behalf of APHA to certify certain Export Health Certificates (EHCs) to other countries. Each importing country specifies what kind of Certifying Officer can sign an EHC for a particular product or range of products. This requirement will be specified on the certificate and in the accompanying instructions, which are known as the 'Notes for Guidance'.

For instance, for exports to the EU an FCCO can sign EHC’s for:

  • fishery products
  • live bivalve molluscs and
  • composite products which contain processed egg or fish products, but do not contain meat or dairy.

How do I become an FCCO?

To become an FCCO you must work for a LA or FSS and meet the eligibility criteria for the role as stated in the Policy of Authorisation for FCCOs and as outlined below:

You must:

  • Hold a valid OCQ(FCCO) certificate, demonstrating your understanding in relation to delivering export certificate on behalf of APHA, and
  • Hold a recognised qualification, demonstrating your skills and knowledge to undertake official controls according to the Food Law Code of Practice for the country in which you are authorised to act, namely:
    • Diploma in Environmental Health awarded by the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS); or
    • Certificate of Registration as an Environmental Health Practitioner awarded by the Environmental Health Registration Board (EHRB) (including its antecedents and replacement); or
    • Higher Certificate in Food Control (HCFC) awarded by the Environmental Health Registration Board (EHRB); or
    •  Higher Certificate in Official Control (HCOC) awarded by the Scottish Food Safety Officer’s Registration Board (SFSORB); or
    • Higher Certificate in Food Practice awarded by the Scottish Food Safety Officer’s Registration Board (SFSORB) or
    • Advanced Professional Certificate in Food Hygiene and Standards Control awarded by CIEH (Chartered Institute of Environmental Health); or
    • Other qualification deemed to be equivalent by their recognized Professional Body (Annex I). 


  • be employed or contractually engaged by either:
    • Local Authority in GB and authorised according to the Food Law Code of Practice, for the inspection and execution of official food hygiene controls; or
    • Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and deemed competent to carry out the role of FCCO.

If you do not meet the qualification eligibility requirements listed above, consideration will be given if you are studying for the Higher Certificate in Official Controls (HCOC) awarded by the Scottish Food Safety Officer’s Registration Board (SFSORB) and have completed both the Higher Certificate in Food Premises Inspection and the Higher Certificate in Food Standards Inspection. You should make an application for eligibility using the ET210 form and submit this by email to The APHA will then consider the application and advise you, in writing, on your eligibility.

By exception APHA may also decide to authorise persons based on relevant previous experience, training and performance, on a case-by-case basis and in direct discussion with the responsible Lead Food Officer. You should email the for advice.

If you are eligible you must:

  • Register with Improve International
  • enrol for the OCQ(CO) – FCCO training
  • complete the training including successful completion of the exam
  • Await authorisation as a FCCO on successful completion of the training.

Further information on the registration process and training are available from Improve International.

See the information on training and authorisation, for further details on becoming an FCCO.

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