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National Restaurant Association - California food-handler law takes effect July 1

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California food-handler law takes effect July 1

California's new food-handler training law takes effect this Friday. Are you ready?

The National Restaurant Association can help food handlers comply with the law through a special version of its ServSafe training program.

The law, enacted in September 2010, requires new and existing restaurant employees to show proof of food-safety training within 30 days, beginning July 1. The law is designed to ensure all restaurant employees receive a reasonable level of food safety training to reduce the potential for foodborne illness.

Only three organizations are qualified to offer a state-approved food-handler course and test, including the National Restaurant Association. Last October, the NRA released the ServSafe California Food Handler Program, which covers basic food safety, personal hygiene, cross-contamination and allergens, time and temperature controls, and cleaning and sanitation.

Under the law, food handlers must take basic food safety training and secure a California food-handler card to work in a restaurant or foodservice company. A food handler is defined by the law as a person who is involved in the preparation, storage or service of food in a food facility.

To obtain a California food-handler card, employees must score at least 70 percent on a test, such as the ServSafe California Food Handler exam. Employers aren’t required to provide the training.

Restaurant employees must prove to employers they’ve undergone appropriate training by showing their ServSafe California Food Handler cards or cards from another approved training and certification program. Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties are exempt from the law because they have pre-existing food-handler card programs.

The NRA and two other programs were approved by the Conference for Food Protection and accredited by the American National Standards Institute. Although many companies offer similar-sounding tests, only those who offer a CFP-approved/ANSI accredited manager-level test are qualified to offer the state-required California food handler card. The other approved companies are Prometric and National Registry.

Food handlers must maintain valid cards throughout their employment. The cards are valid throughout most of the state for three years. Employers must maintain records documenting that employees possess valid California food handler cards.

The ServSafe California Food Handler training course and exam use common workplace terms and real-life examples. That makes the information easy to understand and retain, and relevant to work situations. The online course is available in English and Spanish for $15. A classroom version also is available.

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