Foodservice Equipment Reports

California’s Food Handler Card Legislation—Redux

Details, details. California’s food-handler safety law, which was signed last September and mandated that the state’s nearly 1.4 million foodservice workers have food-safety training certification by July 1, hit a bump in the road this summer.

The original law, Senate Bill 602, required anyone working with food in a restaurant or foodservice operation to have a food-handler card, defined as a three-year license certifying successful completion of a food-safety class. But it didn’t detail how employees would get certified training, or who was qualified to teach classes.

New language detailing how nearly 1.4 million food service workers get their food-handler safety cards was approved by Gov. Jerry Brown and the resulting legislation, SB 303, outlines these technical details and clarifies who needs the card and what certification is required for trainers.

The new deadline is Jan. 1. The state’s environmental and county health departments have a six-month grace period to iron out any problems. All foodservice workers, unless exempted, need to have the card. Exempted employees include managers and chefs who have extensive food safety training, school cafeterias and licensed healthcare facilities.

Newly hired workers must get a card within 30 days. According to the California Restaurant Association, most operators are requiring employees to pay for the card, because it travels with the employee.

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