What Exactly is a Food Handlers Card?
A food handler card is a license or permit that declares a food worker to be fit to work at an eatery after undergoing the necessary food safety training. The US food and public health department have made it mandatory for all food handlers to undergo handler training in order to work at a food facility. All restaurants, fast food outlets, and other food establishments, must have at least one food handler onboard who possesses a food handlers card. A food handler training program that is ANSI accredited promises to teach responsible food handling measures to a worker. The food handler card is recognised by all restaurant associations across the United States and is indispensable to working in the foodservice business.
The food handler training program takes about 2-3 hours to complete. Different states have different food safety rules and training programs on offer. It's therefore best to check with your local health department on programs available and acceptable in your state. It's also important to note that the food handler card issued in one state will not be valid in another state.
Why is a Food Handlers Card Important?
A food handlers card is a kind of guarantee that says a worker employed at a food facility will follow the necessary food safety measures laid down by the FDA and health services authorities. The handlers permit is basically a certificate card that declares that the named food worker has undergone all food safety training and completed the examination to obtain the food handler card.
The US reports over 3,000 deaths due to foodborne illnesses every year. This has made food safety training one of the most critical requirements to run a food business. To ensure that food facility workers have undergone proper training, health authorities have made the ANSI accredited food handler card an imperative to working in foodservice.
Moreover, America has a thriving $200 billion fast food industry. Thousands of fast food outlets serve millions of customers every day. These fast food facilities are often at the center of bacteria outbreaks and foodborne illnesses. To make sure all food safety norms are adhered to, the health department has made the handlers permit mandatory for those working in the fast food business. The certificate ensures a food handler is aware of all public health guidelines while serving food.
Who Needs a Food Handlers Card?
All food workers who are employed at food facilities and are involved in preparing, storing or handling food are required to obtain food handlers card issued by an ANSI accredited provider. So what kind of roles in food service businesses need the food handler card? Employees who work at any food facility, including restaurants, cafes, bakeries, delis, mobile food trucks, bars, and kiosks, require it. Even alcohol servers and food warehouse stockers would need a food handler card, unless exempt from it by local public health authorities.
For example, the California food handler card law specifies job profiles that do not need a food handler card. These include retail stores, where a majority of the sales come from a pharmacy; convenience stores; commissaries; certified farmers' markets; school cafeterias; and bed and breakfast facilities.
Some employers at restaurants may insist on a food handler certificate even if the law does not specify it. In such cases, an employee would have to undergo a food handler training course within 30 days of hire. It is therefore advisable for a food worker looking for employment to get the food handler certificate in advance. Food handler cards extend a measure of credibility and professionalism, not only to the individual worker, but to the food establishment as well.
How Can I Get Hold of a Food Handlers Card?
You've landed a new job at a restaurant and you're super excited. But when you show up for work on the first day, you find that you need a food handlers card for the role. Within 30 days, no less! How do you obtain one quickly?
First, look for ANSI accreditedfood handler training courses available in your state. (This information is easily obtained online.) One course provider may differ from another. Some offer extensive training material; others make their material compact; still others offer video-only content. Depending on your preferences, select a training course and pay the fee. Upon subscribing, you will be granted access to a 2- to 3-hour-long handler course. This course is typically offered in English, Spanish, and other popular languages.
After you go through the modules, you will be asked to take an exam. This is a multiple choice test with 40 questions. It is important to score at least 80% in this examination to secure a food handler certificate. Most handler courses offer two attempts to clear the test. Failing both will require you to go through the food handler course all over again. Once you clear the exam, you earn your food handler certificate. Download it, print it out, and you're ready for work!
How Long is the Food Handlers Card Valid?
Food handler cards are usually valid for a minimum of 2 years. Some states offer an extended validity of three years, and some even offer five. The term of validity depends on local public health rules. Look up the frequently asked questions on your local health department website for validity terms.
Your food handler certificate needs to be renewed after it expires. The renewal policies are different for every state and sometimes, county. Once again, read the rules listed on your state and county health department website.
Should My Employer Pay for My Food Handlers Card?
The food handlers card is issued to an individual food worker and the card certificate goes with you once you quit the job. So, no, your employer will not pay for your food handler card. However, an employer may ask you to get a food handler card with valid years in order to give you a job. The food handlers card is also not issued to a restaurant or food facility, so it is unlikely that your employer will pay for your food handlers card, unless out of goodwill.
Is the Food Handlers Card Valid Across the United States?
The food handler card of one state cannot be used to secure a job in another state. Most states have specific rules for the food handler card that their training programs follow. So, if you are a food worker with a California food handler card, you cannot use it to get a job in New Mexico.
Moreover, even the universal food handler card issued for a particular state may not be recognized in select counties. For example, the California food handler card is not valid in San Diego or Riverside County within the state. These counties have their own food handler cards. It's therefore best to check local rules.