Foodservice Equipment Reports

New Guidelines Suggested For California Food Handler Card Act

New guidelines issued April 15 recommend a slow roll-out of the July 1 enforcement of California’s Food Handler Card.

The new recommendations posted by the California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health recommend that from July 1 through Jan. 1, 2012, enforcement of the law be limited to “education and notification of requirements for compliance.” The CCDEH says the extra time will help it tweak the legislation to better define what specific training programs are approved for obtaining food handler cards.

However, the CCDEH guidelines are not binding. Operators are advised to check with county health officials to see whether the July 1 deadline will be strictly enforced. A delay in enforcement would give employers more time to ensure that the required cards are on file.

Currently, approved training providers include the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe California Food Handler program; the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals; and Prometric. “It takes time to educate a workforce of nearly one million foodservice workers,” stated Jot Condie, pres./CEO of the CRA, which collaborated on the new recommendations. “Food safety is a priority and many operators and employees are working to meet the law’s July 1 compliance deadline, and we are confident most regulators will enact a modified enforcement period during which non-compliant operators and employees won’t be penalized,” he added.

Food handlers are defined as employees “involved in the preparation, service or storage of food.” Enforcement officials have clarified the definition to include most restaurant employees, including, but not limited to: cooks, chefs, waitstaff, bussers, bartenders, hosts/hostesses, beverage pourers, and supervisory personnel, such as the general manager or managers who handle food, according to the guidelines.

Read the guidelines at www.calrest.org/foodhandler.

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