What is a Food Handlers Permit?

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  • Written By: Alicia Sparks
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 02 January 2020
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As the name suggests, a food handlers permit is a permit that allows a person to legally prepare and handle others’ food at any commercial food establishment where such services are provided. Due to the necessary stringent regulations on preparing and handling food, most areas require any commercial food worker to obtain a food handlers card. The employer who hires a food handler will inform him about his food handlers permit requirement and how much time he has to obtain and present the permit. Typically, an area’s health department handles the food handlers certification procedure. Officials in these departments can explain to applicants the required testing and payment processes, as well as how long the permit will remain valid.

Laws vary by location, but most areas require every employee of a commercial food establishment to obtain a food handlers permit. Although the exact regulations can vary depending on the country, region, or even city, certain government departments often strictly regulate commercial food preparation and handling. As such, any person who must prepare and handle food as part of his job description must obtain a food handlers permit to prove he is properly trained to do so. Usually, an employee must obtain and present his food handlers certification within a certain number of days after he begins working at a food establishment. Employers will inform job applicants or new employees about the requirements they must meet in order to obtain and maintain a food handlers certification.


Where a food worker obtains a food handlers permit depends on the location. In America, for example, a person can usually obtain his food handlers certification from his state’s health department. If a person is not sure where he can obtain a food handlers card, he can contact his local health department or simply ask his employer.

Generally, obtaining a food handlers card requires studying for an exam, taking and passing that exam, and then paying for and receiving the license. If the area’s department allows it, a person might be able to handle all or some of these tasks online. Typically, a food handlers permit is valid for and must be renewed after a certain number of years, which depends on that area’s laws. Not all areas will accept an out-of-area food handlers card, even if it is still valid. The permit holder should check with his new local laws before assuming his out-of-area card will be sufficient.


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