California Food Handler Card Law Requires Workers to Receive Food Safety Training


The California Food Handler Card Law, SB 602, is designed to ensure that restaurant employees receive a reasonable level of training in food safety practices to reduce the potential for foodborne illness. Food handlers must have a California Food Handler Card by July 1. Employees hired after June 1 have 30 days from the date of hire to file a food handler card.

A comprehensive set of guidelines was compiled by a working group of members of the California Retail Food Safety Coalition, the California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health and the California Restaurant Association in an effort to clarify the language of the bill.

According to the guidelines, California Food Handlers must take a test and receive a food handler card from a certification organization that is accredited as meeting the requirements of the Conference for Food Protection’s “Standards for Accreditation of Food Protection Manager Certification Programs.” These organizations are:

National Restaurant Association – ServSafe California Food Handler Program

National Registry of Food Safety Professionals (NRFSP)


Although other providers may offer a training course, it is important that the test is administered and the card provided by one of the above three providers to be compliant with the law. We suggest that you look for the name or logo of one of the above providers on your employees’ food handler card.

The working group has also suggested clarification language, reflected in Senate Bill 303 (SB303). If SB303 is approved later this year all training and testing providers will need to be accredited through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

The National Restaurant Association is currently completing the ANSI ASTM 2659 application process to continue as an approved provider of food handler training in California. We have met with ANSI, and are confident that our program will be accredited under the ANSI ASTM 2659 Standards this year. Today, the ServSafe California Food Handler Program is approved under SB602.

For more information about the California Food Handler law and documents available to help operators navigate compliant employee training solutions, please visit

Posted by Lauren 05/13/11

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