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What is the law about?

California has adopted the California Food Handler Card Law pursuant to SB 602 which was enacted into law in 2010.

Who is required to have a food handler card?

All food employees who prepare, store or serve food, must have a California Food Handler Card. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • servers,
  • chefs/ head chefs/ cooks/ head cooks
  • bartenders
  • hosts and hostesses who handle food

The following food employees may also need to have a California Food Handler Card:

  • bussers
  • supervisors (general manager, or managers)

Managers who already have a Food Protection Manager Certification don’t need a California Food Handler (CFH) Card.

When will the law be effective?

By law, food handlers hired before June 1, 2011 must have a food handler card by July 1, 2011. Food handlers hired on or after June 1, 2011 must have a food handler card on file within 30 days of hire.

How do you become certified?

You will have to take a basic food safety training course with a score of 70 percent or better. The food handler may obtain a California Food Handler Card from:

  • An American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited training provider that meets ASTM International E2659-09 Standard Practice for Certificate Programs.

Where are the cards accepted?

California Food Handler Cards are accepted everywhere in California except Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties where local programs already exist.

Who pays for the training?

The law does not require employers to pay for an employee's time and expense to take the training and test. The California Food Handler Card is the property of the employee, who can take it to another employer as long as the card is valid.

How long is the card valid?

Cards are valid for three years from the date of issuance. The employers must keep a copy on file.

Who enforces the law?

Local health departments enforce the law. From July 1, 2011 to January 1, 2012, Los Angeles County will be limited to education and notification for compliance.

Who is exempt from the law?

  • temporary food facilities (food booths)
  • certified farmers’ markets
  • commissaries
  • grocery stores
  • convenience stores
  • licensed health care facilities
  • mobile support units
  • public and private school cafeterias
  • restricted food service facilities
  • retail stores where a majority of sales are from a pharmacy

For a complete list of exemptions, or additional questions contact our Industry Engagement Program or California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health

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What is a Food Handler Card (CFH CARD)?

A California Food Handler Card (CFH Card) is a certificate that is required for all food employees who are involved in the preparation, storage, or service of food in a food facility.

The CFH Card is obtained after attending a food safety training course and passing an examination from an accredited organization. A listing of Accredited Organizations can be found at the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) website at: www.ansi.org.

What is a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) certificate?

A Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) certificate is required for the owner or an employee of a food facility that prepares, handles, or serves non-prepackaged, potentially hazardous food.

  • There shall be at least one CFPM person at each food facility.
  • The CFPM certificate is obtained after attending a food safety training course and passing an examination from an accredited organization.

A list of Accredited Organizations can be found at the www.ansi.org

What is the difference between the CFH Card and the CFPM certificate?

Both, the CFH card and the CFM certificate are required under the current laws and focus on food handling, employee’s hygiene and the prevention of foodborne illness. The differences are as follows:

Description Certified Food Handler Certified Food Protection Manager
Training required At least 3 hours
(including training and exam)
At least 8 hours
(including training and exam)
Number of Questions during the Examination 40 questions 80 questions
The certificate is valid for 3 years 5 years
Can I use the certificate in multiple food facilities? Can be used in multiple facilities Can only be used in one facility at a time

When is a CFH Card and a CFPM certificate required?

There are different food facilities that require these certificates. The CFH Card and the CFPM certificate are required when the food facility handles non-prepackaged potentially hazardous food.

Note: Refer to the CCDEH guidelines for facilities that are exempted from the CFH Card at www.ccdeh.com

How many CFH Cards or CFPM certificates are required per food facility?

There shall be at least one CFPM person at each food facility and any food employee who is involved in the preparation, storage, or service of food in a food facility must have a CFH Card.

How can I obtain a CFH card or the CFPM certificate?

In order to obtain a CFH card or the CFPM certificate, the owner/employees must complete a training course and successfully pass the exam issued by the accredited testing organization.

How can I find an approved provider?

The CFH card or CFPM certificate can be obtained by contacting one of the approved California Food Handler Certificate Programs directly. Please see The American National Standards Institute website at: www.ansi.org

Additionally, a listing of Accredited CFPM Programs can be found at www.ansi.org. Be sure your training company uses one of the approve program listed.

Are there certificate training courses and examinations offered in different languages?

Yes, the training courses can be offered in different languages, however the employee must contact the provider to check for the availability of a specific languages.

If I am already CFPM certified, do I also need a CFH Card?

No, if you already have a CFPM certificate, you will not need to obtain a CFH Card.

What would happen if my food facility does not have the certificates (CFH Card or CFPM) when requested by the inspector?

If the required certificates are not available on site at the time of inspection, your food facility may be cited for violation of State Law.

How long do I have to obtain a CFH Card or the CFPM Certificate if I just opened my business?

A food facility that begins operation, changes ownership or, no longer has a certified owner or employee, must obtain a CFPM certificate within 60 days.

Employees (food handlers) that do not have a CFH card must obtain it within 30 days from their hiring day.

Can employees use their CFH Card or CFMP Certificate in more than one food facility?

CFPM certificates cannot be used in more than one food facility. A CFPM may only serve at one food facility as a CFPM.

California Food Handler Cards are accepted everywhere in California except Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego Counties where local programs already exist.

The Certified Food Handler (CFH) Card or Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) certificate can be obtained by contacting one of the approved California Food Handler Certificate Programs directly. Please see The American National Standards Institute website at: www.ansi.org

Additionally, a listing of Accredited CFPM Programs can be found at www.ansi.org. Be sure your training company uses one of the approve program listed.

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Email: ehconsultative@ph.lacounty.gov

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Industry Engagement Program
5050 Commerce Drive
Baldwin Park, CA 91706