How to Get Your Food Handlers Permit

By Staff Writer

Knowing how to get a food handlers permit opens up a world of work opportunities in the culinary arts industry. It provides the food safety training you need to work in bars, restaurants, resorts, hospital cafeterias and more. Many states require culinary workers train before they can get jobs in hospitality and other industries.

This article covers the requirements for obtaining a food handlers card, as well as advice on how to find an online course that will allow you to get your instruction.

Why You Need to Learn Culinary Safety Guidelines

According to the Physicians Immediate Care website, many people mistake food poisoning, also known as the 24-hour flu, for a run-in with a virus such as rotavirus.

Those viruses have a run of up to three days or more, while a bout of "culinary flu" usually lasts 24 hours. It’s a miserable 24 hours, nonetheless, often making you feel worse than any serious virus ever did.

It's no fun to be on the receiving end of such a mishap, but if you’re a server, chef or industry pro who gets someone sick, the consequences can be much greater. Given that these types of illnesses are common, the danger is real.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 50 million people get sick with a foodborne illness per year. That’s one in six people.

Of those, around 3,000 die from those illnesses, and another 128,000 spend time in the hospital recovering from their maladies.

Common pathogens that cause problems include norovirus, salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium perfringens, per the CDC. Most of the time, these pathogens come from animal-based products, though fruits and vegetables can carry them, too.

Culinary workers who don't protect the public from this kind of harm put their jobs and potentially the lives of those they serve in jeopardy.

This is why the requirement for the card exists.

How to Get Your Card

Requirements for obtaining a food handler’s card include taking a course and passing a final exam. You can do both 100% online with our state-accepted and ANAB-accredited training courses.

Many states and employers require foodservice workers to earn a card through a program accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB). This organization reviews industry-specific certificate programs to ensure they meet domestic and international standards of quality.

You can complete training at your own pace and take the exam when you’re ready. You must pass the test to earn your permit. The passing score is usually 70%, although it can vary state-by-state.

Our convenient format gives you the option to test as many times as necessary until you pass. Once you do, you can print your card immediately. There’s no waiting for a card to come in the mail.

In most states, your card remains valid for three years. Some states and local regulations require you to renew your card sooner.

To stay compliant, you will need to retake the course and exam before your current permit expires. If you lose your card or need another copy, you may return to our website and print off another one.

Who Needs a Permit?

This credential demonstrates that culinary workers understand the basic industry safety standards as required by their states.

Employees who could be required to get the instruction include (but are not limited to):

  • Restaurant hosts
  • Servers
  • Bartenders
  • Prep cooks and cooks
  • Dishwashers
  • Catering staff
  • Industry warehouse workers
  • School cafeteria workers
  • Health care facility workers
  • Farmers market vendors
  • People who work with industry-related equipment
  • Fruit pickers
  • Butchers and bakery staff
  • Delivery personnel

It’s important to mention that managers are often required to take a different certification program and exam that trains them in manager-level safety protocols.

For example, foodservice employees who advance to a manager position likely already hold a worker card. But manager certification training may be required on top of that. Many states require businesses to have at least one certified manager on staff.

What Kind of Culinary Safety Guidelines Will I Learn?

Training introduces culinary workers to concepts like:

  • What foodborne illness is
  • Cross-contamination
  • Temperature danger zones
  • Proper handwashing and personal hygiene protocols
  • Reheating best practices
  • Preparing for a safety inspection
  • Employee instruction (for managers)
  • And more

How Do I Know if I Need a Permit?

The best way to find out is to check with your employer. In some states, the test is optional and depends entirely on the employer. In others, like Oregon or California, the exam is required and regulated by state law.

In locations that require a card, most people who work in the culinary industry will be mandated by the state to earn one before starting work or soon after. Even if it is not legally mandated, your employer may require you to get a permit.

Why You Should Train with eFoodcard

Our staff brings a total of more than 40 years of industry experience to the table, ensuring that you get a solid foundation in the basics. Our convenient, online programs are accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board.

In our courses, you’ll learn the required food safety guidelines that allow you to work in the industry. You’ll gain the confidence and know-how that comes from our state-of-the-art instruction.

We offer 100% online eFoodCard training in numerous states, including Arizona, California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and Texas. Further, to make our programs inclusive, we provide instruction in both English and Spanish.