California Enacts Food Handler Legislation

The Food Safety Modernization Act and Child Nutrition Act are both languishing in Washington, victims of intraparty fighting and the looming mid-term elections. But a few things are getting done on the state level. Last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a landmark piece of food safety legislation: the California Food Handler Card Act.

The new law requires that all employees who handle food in restaurants earn a California Food Handler Card within 30 days of being hired. Foodservice workers must undergo training and testing within that timeframe. At least one accredited food-safety certification exam will be offered online. The card is valid statewide for three years. The bill, technically known as SB 602, is similar to the food-handling law in Florida, where foodborne illness outbreaks have dropped 79% since rules were implemented.

The California Restaurant Association applauded the legislation; the state is home to more than 1.4 million food industry jobs. “SB 602 is lawmaking at its best: All stakeholders were at the table, working together toward a shared goal of ensuring food safety,” CRA Pres. Jot Condie said. “We wanted a common-sense approach to training restaurant employees to safely handle food and to avoid a patchwork of local regulations. SB 602 achieves both of these goals.”

Learn more about the California Food Handler law.“””

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