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National Restaurant Association - Illinois food-handler training law set to take effect

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Illinois food-handler training law set to take effect

Illinois is about to become the second state to require all foodservice employees who work with food, food equipment, utensils, and food-contact surfaces  to receive basic food safety training through programs accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-ASTM International.

The requirement takes effect in Illinois July 1, but no fines will be assessed for violations until Jan. 1.

California was the first state to require employees who handle food to complete an ANSI-ASTM International accredited food safety training program. California’s law took effect in 2012.

Previously, Illinois had no state training requirements for food-handler training, though restaurants were required to have an employee onsite at all times who has completed Food Protection Manager Certification (FPMC). Restaurant employees who have already earned the FPMC won’t be required to receive the new food-handler training.

Specifically, the new Illinois law for food-handler training

  • requires employees to be trained in basic safe food-handling principles within 30 days of starting employment.
  • states that training must include monitoring food temperatures, foodborne illness, personal hygiene, food contamination prevention, cleaning and sanitizing equipment and utensils, and problems and solutions associated with temperature control, cross-contamination, housekeeping and maintenance.
  • allows training to be completed online or in person.
  • requires certificates to be renewed every three years

The Illinois Restaurant Association advocated for the law to require that training be conducted through ANSI-ASTM International approved programs, said Sam Toia, IRA president and CEO. “We wanted to make sure the quality of the training programs was being continuously monitored and verified by an accreditation organization with the appropriate expertise,” he said.

“The industry here wanted to see additional training for their staffs and we began to see individual counties create different training standards for food handlers,” Toia said. “We wanted one state standard. Food safety is of paramount importance to us.” Employers aren’t required to pay for training, which is limited to a cost of $15.

Restaurants must maintain physical or electronic proof of employees’ food handler training, said Mary Wilkie, director of education for the Illinois Restaurant Association, who sat on a state committee that helped develop the law. After January 1, 2015, state and local health authorities will be able to issue fines, though it hasn’t been determined what those will be, Wilkie said. “Enforcement will be limited to education and notification through Dec. 31,” she said. “The goal was to not overburden the operator,” she said.

ServSafe offers the ServSafe Manager and ServSafe Food Handler Programs, both of which are ANSI-ASTM International accredited. Both programs are offered in multiple formats and languages. Find the program that works for your restaurant.

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