Food handler preparing a food dish.

What Is a Food Handler Card?

4 Min Read

Learn about the Food Handler Card, who needs one, and why it's so important.


Whether you transport, prepare or serve food, food safety training is critically important. It is one of the best ways to gain the fundamental knowledge you need to handle food safely in a food business, show employers you're equipped to work, and meet compliance requirements.

A Food Handler Card —  also known as a Food Handler Certificate, permit, or Food Handler License — signifies that you have completed a food safety training program, and in many cases, is required for employment in the food and hospitality industries.

Who needs a Food Handler Card?

Food Handler Cards are applicable to anyone who transports, distributes, prepares or serves food; or works with food surfaces or utensils. Examples include, but are not limited to those that work in:

  • Restaurants, hotels and cafés
  • Catering businesses
  • Convenience stores
  • Event and conferences centers
  • Casinos and gaming venues
  • Supermarkets, groceries, butchers, delis and bakeries
  • Canneries and breweries
  • Organizations and charities that distribute or serve food, including hospitals and hospices, school cafeterias, and childcare and aged-care facilities

How do I get a Food Handler Card?

To obtain your Food Handler Card, the first step is to sign up for a food handler training course.
A thorough food handler training program covers topics such as:

  • Food safety fundamentals and understanding your legal obligations with regards to food safety
  • Storing, preparing and cooking food correctly
  • How to properly clean and sanitize all surfaces, equipment and utensils
  • The different types of food contamination
  • Food allergies, food intolerances, and symptoms of allergic reactions
  • Pest control measures
  • How to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks

Once you complete the course, the next step is to take and pass the final exam. Userve’s Food Handler Course includes the final exam, and consists of a series of multiple-choice questions. There is a minimum passing grade required, which may vary by state. Be sure to check the course details in your state to understand requirements.

Upon passing your final exam, you may obtain your Food Handler Card. Userve’s course allows you to complete the training and exam 100% online, and receive your card or certificate of completion within minutes for download.

Once you’ve obtained your card/certificate, some states require a further step for registration. Contact your local health authority to determine the needs in your state.

Is a Food Handler Card required in my state?

As we mentioned above, some states have different legal requirements. Most states do require Food Handler Cards in order to be employed in food service or related industries, but the requirements to obtain a California Food Handler Card may vary from those of Florida.

Additionally, some states require a specific type of training that is approved by a government or accreditation body. One example of an accreditation body is the ANSI National Accreditation Board, or ANAB. ANAB-accredited training is required in multiple states, so food handlers must find a training program that has been accredited by the ANAB. Texas, Hawaii, and Illinois are all examples of states that require accredited training. Userve’s Food Handler Course is ANAB-Accredited in those states and more. Your local health authority can confirm the requirements in your state.

Beyond what is required, however, it is strongly recommended, and considered best practice for all food handlers to obtain their Food Handler Card. Being able to demonstrate to employers that you have your Food Handler Card shows that you have the skills and knowledge you need to work safely and effectively in their organization.

If you’re a business owner or manager, ensuring your employees have received proper training and obtained their Food Handler Card gives you the peace of mind that compliance requirements are being met. If employees are found not to possess valid Food Handler Cards where required by law, your business may be subject to disciplinary action, fines and penalties.
What’s more, employing staff with proper food safety training ensures you’re keeping your customers and business safe from potential food safety hazards that could have serious consequences.

Can I get a Food Handler Card online?

Yes, you can. The Userve Food Handler Course is designed to be completed entirely online, and within just a few hours (or you can take up to 12 months to finish, if that’s more your speed). You can study wherever and whenever you want, including on a mobile device, complete the course and final exam online, and receive your Food Handler Card/Certificate within minutes of passing the final exam.

Userve’s online food safety training courses are the fastest, easiest way to complete your training and get your Food Handler Card. For more information on the course available in your state, click on the link below.

Food Handler Training

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