Knowledge is vital but knowing where to apply is what matters most. Riding a bike doesn’t necessarily mean that the rider is knowledgeable but a motorist license is an affirmation that the holder is knowledgeable to handle the vehicle at the time of crisis by passing an exam that tests their vehicle handling capability. Similarly, anyone working in a restaurant or the hospitality industry doesn’t mean they can handle it professionally. Hence, most U.S. states have made it mandatory for anyone working in the restaurant business right from procurement of ingredients to food preparation and even serving the prepared dish to the customer to have a valid food handler’s permit. Failure to do so attracts hefty fines on the establishment and the individuals handling food professionally without a food handler’s permit.
Since you landed here in search of getting information about the food handler’s permit, this article will act as a guide on how to get a fresh one, how to apply for permit renewal, and what to do if you lost your food handler’s permit.
What is a food handler’s permit?
As we stated earlier, a food handler’s permit is mandatory to work in a restaurant or handle food professionally. A food handler’s permit holder has undergone the necessary training to understand the different precautions to take while working with food.
The food handler’s permit is issued by the local state health authority and many public & private institutes provide classes and conduct required exams for getting certified for handling food professionally. A Food handler class offers you online training and provides additional resources on different aspects of food handling such as:
- Food safety: A glimpse on importance of maintaining food safety
- Hygiene-related practices: When handling food, you need to maintain hygiene and you learn different best practices related to hygiene.
- ‘Danger Zone’: The temperature range where the microbes or pathogens contaminating a food can multiply quickly and how to keep the prepared food out of this range.
- Different food-related illnesses and how the pathogens causing them can enter the food
- A list of different ingredient-triggered allergies
Depending on which U.S. states you are currently applying to work in, the validity of a food handler’s permit is 3-4 years.
Recommended: How Do I Renew My Food Handlers Permit?
How to avail a food handler’s permit?
A food handler’s permit is only awarded when the person has undergone extensive online training. And is aware of all the precautions to take while handling the food professionally. The course is roughly 90-120 mins long video where professionals explain in detail all the aspects of food safety. And food-handling hygiene. You can either watch the video in a single sitting or watch it in chunks. Different states have varying criteria related to the time period after watching the video to take the exam based on the video. You need to answer 45 questions based on what was explained in the video and score at least 75% to be eligible for a food handlers license. On passing the exam, you can download a temporary food handler permit while the permanent permit will be mailed to your address within 30 days of exam passing.
How to renew a food handler’s permit?
As we mentioned earlier, the validity of a food handler’s permit varies between different U.S. states but it is between 3-4 years. The reason for periodic renewal is the discovery of new food-related or contagious diseases. That can contaminate the food or update the food handling practices. So, it is important for a food handler’s permit holder to renew their permit shortly before the existing permit expires. You don’t need to jump through hoops or deal with any red tapes to renew your food handler’s permit. Log into the institute page where you got your permit the first time. On the profile page, you will have an option to retake the exam after again watching the training video. On scoring at least 75% in the exam, you renew your permit.
I lost my Food Handler’s permit, What to do?
A soft copy of your food handler’s permit is available for download if you took an online food handling course. You can get the copy in your email or by logging into your profile on the online course provider website. If you don’t find a copy or don’t remember your credentials for logging into your profile, you are faced with the only solution i.e., retake the exam. You need to register again and rewatch the instructional video and pass the exam with at least a 75% score. The new food handler will be mailed to your postal address. The new permit is considered a fresh certification and will have validation of 3-4 years from the date of issuance.
Whether you are applying for a fresh permit or renewing an existing food handler’s permit. State authorities recognize it as credible and this opens up opportunities for you to work in the restaurant business. All you need to take care of are putting the knowledge to practice and periodically renewing your permit before expiry.