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MLC 2006 Regulation 3.2 - Seafarer Food and Catering to Ensure that Seafarers have Access to Good Quality Food and Drinking Water Provided Under Regulated Hygienic Conditions

{reg 3 2 seafarer food

MLC 2006 Regulation 3.2 deals with food and catering for seafarers. The MLC, 2006 recognizes the importance of ensuring that sufficient food and drinking water of appropriate quality is on board ship and that food is prepared by trained catering personnel.

The Convention provides some flexibility as to the legal form for implementation in that it requires national laws and regulations or other measures. However it would require that implementation be in a form that is considered mandatory under the national legal system.

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MLC 2006 Regulation 3.2 Seafarer Food and Catering (Summary)


Purpose: To ensure that seafarers have access to good quality food and drinking water provided under regulated hygienic conditions



  • Ships must carry sufficient quantities of good quality food and drinking water and supply it free of charge during your period of engagement.
  • Food provided has to be nutritious and varied and prepared and served in hygienic conditions. Religious and cultural differences also have to be considered.
  • Frequent inspections have to be carried out and recorded by the Captain or someone under his/her authority. The following has to be checked:
    • Supplies of food and drinking water
    • Spaces and equipment use for storing and handling food and drinking water
    • Galley and food preparation areas
  • Ships’ cooks have to be over 18 and appropriately trained and qualified for the job. However, on ships with less than 10 crew or in exceptional cases for a period no longer than one month, the cook does not have to be fully qualified, but all those responsible for handling food, must be trained in matters relating to hygiene, food and its storage on board.

Title 3. Accommodation, Recreational Facilities, Food and Catering

Regulation 3.2; Code Standard A3.2 and Guideline B3.2


MLC 2006 Regulation 3.2 - Food and Catering

Purpose: To ensure that seafarers have access to good quality food and drinking water provided under regulated hygienic conditions
  1. Each Member shall ensure that ships that fly its flag carry on board and serve food and drinking water of appropriate quality, nutritional value and quantity that adequately covers the requirements of the ship and takes into account the differing cultural and religious backgrounds.
  2. Seafarers on board a ship shall be provided with food free of charge during the period of engagement.
  3. Seafarers employed as ships’ cooks with responsibility for food preparation must be trained and qualified for their position on board ship.

Standard A3.2 - Food and Catering

  1. Each Member shall adopt laws and regulations or other measures to provide minimum standards for the quantity and quality of food and drinking water and for the catering standards that apply to meals provided to seafarers on ships that fly its flag, and shall undertake educational activities to promote awareness and implementation of the standards referred to in this paragraph.
  2. Each Member shall ensure that ships that fly its flag meet the following minimum standards:
    1. food and drinking water supplies, having regard to the number of seafarers on board, their religious requirements and cultural practices as they pertain to food, and the duration and nature of the voyage, shall be suitable in respect of quantity, nutritional value, quality and variety;
    2. the organization and equipment of the catering department shall be such as to permit the provision to the seafarers of adequate, varied and nutritious meals prepared and served in hygienic conditions; and
    3. catering staff shall be properly trained or instructed for their positions.
  3. Shipowners shall ensure that seafarers who are engaged as ships’ cooks are trained, qualified and found competent for the position in accordance with requirements set out in the laws and regulations of the Member concerned.
  4. The requirements under paragraph 3 of this Standard shall include a completion of a training course approved or recognized by the competent authority, which covers practical cookery, food and personal hygiene, food storage, stock control, and environmental protection and catering health and safety.
  5. On ships operating with a prescribed manning of less than ten which, by virtue of the size of the crew or the trading pattern, may not be required by the competent authority to carry a fully qualified cook, anyone processing food in the galley shall be trained or instructed in areas including food and personal hygiene as well as handling and storage of food on board ship.
  6. In circumstances of exceptional necessity, the competent authority may issue a dispensation permitting a non-fully qualified cook to serve in a specified ship for a specified limited period, until the next convenient port of call or for a period not exceeding one month, provided that the person to whom the dispensation is issued is trained or instructed in areas including food and personal hygene as well as handling and storage of food on board ship.
  7. In accordance with the ongoing compliance procedures under Title 5, the competent authority shall require that frequent documented inspections be carried out on board ships, by or under the authority of the master, with respect to:
    1. supplies of food and drinking water;
    2. all spaces and equipment used for the storage and handling of food and drinking water; and
    3. galley and other equipment for the preparation and service of meals.
  8. No seafarer under the age of 18 shall be employed or engaged or work as a ship’s cook

Guideline B3.2 - Food and Catering

Guideline B3.2.1 - Inspection, Education, Research and Publication

  1. The competent authority should, in cooperation with other relevant agencies and organizations, collect up-to-date information on nutrition and on methods of purchasing, storing, preserving, cooking and serving food, with special reference to the requirements of catering on board a ship. This information should be made available, free of charge or at reasonable cost, to manufacturers of and traders in ships’ food supplies and equipment, masters, stewards and cooks, and to shipowners’ and seafarers’ organizations concerned. Appropriate forms of publicity, such as manuals, brochures, posters, charts or advertisements in trade journals, should be used for this purpose.
  2. The competent authority should issue recommendations to avoid wastage of food, facilitate the maintenance of a proper standard of hygiene, and ensure the maximum practicable convenience in working arrangements.
  3. The competent authority should work with relevant agencies and organizations to develop educational materials and on-board information concerning methods of ensuring proper food supply and catering services.
  4. The competent authority should work in close cooperation with the shipowners’ and seafarers’ organizations concerned and with national or local authorities dealing with questions of food and health, and may where necessary utilize the services of such authorities.

Guideline B3.2.2 - Ships' Cooks

  1. Seafarers should only be qualified as ships’ cooks if they have:
    1. served at sea for a minimum period to be prescribed by the competent authority, which could be varied to take into account existing relevant qualifications or experience;
    2. passed an examination prescribed by the competent authority or passed an equivalent examination at an approved training course for cooks.
  2. The prescribed examination may be conducted and certificates granted either directly by the competent authority or, subject to its control, by an approved school for the training of cooks.
  3. The competent authority should provide for the recognition, where appropriate, of certificates of qualification as ships’ cooks issued by other Members, which have ratified this Convention or the Certification of Ships’ Cooks Convention, 1946 (No. 69), or other approved body.

LAST UPDATED ON Dec 12, 2019

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