Questions You Might be Afraid to Ask About the Food Safety Certificate

Food Safety Certificates are mentioned a lot in hospitality, but there’s some information people don’t tell you. Does your employer pay, or do you? Do you really have to do it every 5 years? These are questions you may be afraid to ask about the food handlers certificate…but we’re here to answer them!
Here’s what you need to know, as well as info about how and where to find more info on this ever-important topic, below! If you need help finding more information about your local health department, please contact our team anytime! Our Public Health Inspector is available to answer any questions.

Does my employer pay for my food safety certificate?

Whether your employer pays for the food handler certificate or you do, this is a cost that’s worth it. In most cases, employers will pay for your food safety certificate because the course is intended to help ensure the health of their employees and safety of their customers. They will also be responsible if a Health Inspector audits their establishment and finds they are not following training regulations to standard.
However, if you want to take an online food safety course and have no employer, you may have to pay for it yourself. The cost of such courses can range from $30-$100 dollars depending on the company, how long the course will take, how much content it covers, and the overall quality of the training experience.

Do I have to renew my food safety certificvate every 5 years?

The simple answer: yes. The food handler certificate must be renewed every five years, so you’ll have to retake the online food safety course as well as pay a fee. You will need a valid certificate as long as you are in a job handling food, but if you’re thinking about changing jobs or employers, you will not need to get a new one before starting with the new company. The best thing to do is renew your certificate six months before it expires to cover any unexpected delays in you obtaining your new certificate.

What if I lose my food safety certificate?

If you lose your food safety certificate, it will depend on whether you took the course in person or online. There are online food safety courses available from various organizations, so if you were issued a digital food handler certificate you should start by narrowing down the company you received the certificate from. Reaching out to the specific company with your certificate in their database will make your replacement process much simpler – they’d simply resend you the digital copy.

If you took the food handler course in person, the best start would be contacting the regional health authority in the area where you live, if it was not a company-specific program. They will then send you a form to replace your lost certificate and provide evidence that it was issued to you in the first place.

I’m only serving pre-packaged food. Do I still get a food safety certificate?

If you only serve pre-packaged food that is considered “low-risk” (food that has a very low chance to grow micro-organisms that could spread illness), then whether you need a food safety certificate depends on your specific province and area. Some provinces allow serving pre-packaged food without a food safety certificate, but will restrict where and when you can sell/serve these foods. However, if you are going to be cooking anything fresh or serving any dishes that have never been pre-packaged, then you will definitely need a food safety certificate. If you are unsure about whether or not your business needs its employees to be certified, speak with your provincial or territorial department of health and they will be able to help you figure out what’s right for your establishment.

I’m the site manager. Do I still need a food safety certificate?

If you are the site manager of a food establishment, you still need a food handler certificate. The site manager is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the restaurant and ensuring that food safety standards are upheld. The site manager also ensures that the staff is properly trained in safe food handling and sanitation practices, even if not formally. In most provinces, the food handler training requirement is to have at least the manager certified even if all of the employees are not. To learn about the specifics for your province, you can refer to our Food Safety Laws page.

I still have questions.

If you still have questions about the food safety certificate, the best place to start is to reach out to your employer or local health department. They should be able to provide information on your specific area’s training requirements. Additionally, they will be able to advise you on the best course of action for getting your food handler certificate with an independent company. If you are looking to complete an online food safety course, we have a variety of options available, and a Health Inspector available to answer any in-depth questions. Be sure to reach out to us for more info!