SB 476: How California's New Food Handler Law Affects Employers

By Staff Writer

Effective January 1, 2024, employers in California will be obligated to cover all costs associated with food handler training, reflecting the commitment of Senate Bill 476 (SB 476) to elevate industry standards and ensure public health and safety.

SB 476 revises Section 113948 of the California Health and Safety Code, which formerly required workers who handle or prepare food to earn a food handler card within 30 days of starting work.

The updated law requires businesses to pay for training program costs, compensate employees for time spent in training and cover other expenses related to food handler training. Training must be completed during standard work hours, and employees must be relieved of standard work duties while they complete their course and exam.

Benefits of Training with eFoodcard

Streamline training for your entire team. We bring over 40 years of combined experience to the California food and restaurant industry, providing a full suite of training solutions to food and beverage employees.

We offer:

  • 100% online training: Our California food handler training program ensures employees are compliant with the new state regulations.
  • ANAB-accredited and locally approved courses: In addition to our accredited and state-compliant course, we provide county-specific programs.
  • Cost-effective business solutions: Purchase training for your entire group and access tiered pricing discounts. The larger the order, the more you will save.
  • Easily assign courses and track progress: Fill out a brief form and purchase training tokens with bulk purchase discounts. Assign tokens to your team, view their training progress and keep track of certificates — all online.
  • Instant certificate downloads: Employees can download their food handler card certificate immediately after completing their course.
  • Language inclusivity: Our courses are also available in Spanish, ensuring that your entire workforce, regardless of language preference, is well-versed in the latest state regulations.

Unpacking SB 476

The key change, outlined in Senate Bill No. 476, chapter 610, is that businesses in California are mandated to cover all costs related to food handler training, including training costs and compensation for the time an employee spends in the program. Let's dive into the specific changes and what this means for both employers and employees in the state.

Financial responsibility:

  • Before: The burden of food handler training costs primarily fell on individual employees.
  • Now: Employers are required to cover the cost of training programs and compensate employees for the time spent in training.

Training arrangement:

  • Before: Employees purchased and completed training on their own time, outside of work hours.
  • Now: The employer must allow employees to train during work hours, pay them for that time and facilitate a training and test-taking environment.

Employees will still be required to obtain their food handler card within 30 days of starting employment, and the cards will remain valid for three years from the issue date.

A card is required for the majority of workers who prepare, store or serve food. SB 476 explains that employees at certain workplaces are exempt from the law, including workers at public and private school cafeterias, licensed health care facilities and farmers markets.

Starting January 1, 2025, the California Department of Public Health is required to list all food handler programs that are accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) on its website. Local public health department websites will provide links to that list.

What Are California's Requirements for Food Handler Courses?

Food handler courses must adhere to specific criteria to ensure proper training. According to the California Health and Safety Code, training must meet the following requirements:

  • Provide knowledge on basic food safety procedures, foodborne illness, temperature control, personal hygiene, safe handling of major food allergens, preventing food contamination and more
  • Allow students to complete the course and final exam within 2.5 hours
  • Include a final exam with at least 40 questions on the required subject matter
  • Students must achieve a minimum passing score of 70% on the exam
  • Courses must be ANAB-accredited and meet the ASTM International E2659-09 Standard Practice for Certificate Programs

Food handler training from eFoodcard satisfies all state requirements, and it's the fastest online program in California. The program takes students 75 minutes to complete, which saves your business time and money.