How do I get a food handler certificate in California?
Simple! To get your food handler card in California, you need to complete food handler training with an ANSI-accredited provider. Once you pass your exam, make sure to print your certificate of completion. The course certificate you get from the training provider is your "card."
It only takes two hours, and you can complete it entirely online. Enroll now to get your food handler card in California!
Does California require food handler training?
Yes. Under CA Health & Safety Code §113948, all food employees should complete an accredited food handler training course within 30 days of hiring.
Some counties (Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego) have their own food handler card requirements that pre-date the state law. If you live in those counties, you need to follow local requirements instead.
Depending on where you live, there might be additional requirements. It’s always best practice to double check requirements with your city/county or employer.
Also, you'll need to take a copy of your certificate of completion to your employer because California law requires them to maintain records of food handler training for all employees and produce them upon request. You might want to print or save a few copies for yourself.
Who needs a food handler card in California?
California's Health and Safety Code clarifies that a food handler is anyone involved in the preparation, storage, or service of food in a food facility, unless you work at an exempt facility or have valid Food Manager Certification instead.
Exempt facilities include:
- Grocery stores and convenience stores (except separately owned food facilities attached or located inside)
- Certified farmer's markets
- Licensed health care facilities
- Public and private school cafeterias
- And more
Can I take an online course to get my food handler permit?
Yes, although where you should get your training depends on the county where you work.
State law, which applies in all but three counties, allows you to take your course online or in-person. But it’s important to note that any course you take must be accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). That includes the Learn2Serve, by 360training, courses.
San Diego County requires you to pick a training provider off their approved list, which includes 360training as well. Enroll now!
Unfortunately, we can't help with Riverside and San Bernardino Counties; they only have one county-approved training provider, each.
How long does a California food handlers certificate last?
Your food handler certificate is valid for three years, unless you work in Riverside County. Riverside's food handler card is only valid for two years.
Once your license expires, you’ll need to complete the food handler training course again.
Why should I take food handler training?
If you plan on working as a food employee in California, you're required to complete a food handler training course. But food handlers also need to know how to prevent foodborne illnesses for public safety.
In the year 2017, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that there was a total of 107 foodborne disease outbreaks in California. This is down from the 119 reported in 2015, but higher than the 98 outbreaks reported in 2016.
Ultimately, we want the number of outbreaks to keep going down. If you practice what you learn in food handler training, you can help make that happen.
What jobs can I get in California with my food handler license?
In California, you can work at a variety of establishments if you have your food handler card. Some examples include:
- Restaurants (counter service, casual, and fine dining)
- Fast food
- Coffee shops
- Delis and sandwich shops
- Food trucks
- And many more…
And within each establishment there are numerous jobs because the food and beverage industry in California is growing extremely fast.
According to the California Restaurant Association (CRA), in 2019 there were 1,830,000 restaurant and food service jobs, which translates to 11% of total employment. More importantly, that number is projected to grow 9% by the year 2029.
If you’re looking to get a job in the food and beverage industry in California, here are some good options, along with how much money you can expect to make based on wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
|Job Title||Average Hourly Wage||Average Yearly Wage|
|Fast Food Cook||$12.18||$25,330|
Another thing to note is that you’ll need your California food handler card to get any of these jobs. And if you already have it before you apply, you’ll be way ahead of the competition!
Where can I find more information about food safety in California?
California Department of Food and Agriculture: The CDFA regulates the production and sale of food products, so part of their job is ensuring public safety. You'll find food safety and product recalls here.
California Department of Public Health: The CDPH is a great source of information on foodborne diseases and outbreaks, as well as food defense and security.