Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to the most commonly asked questions about the California Online Food Handler Program. Learn helpful information about food handler training requirements in California and what you need to know before starting your training.
Work in San Diego?
Read our San Diego County specific FAQs.
What is a food handler card?
A food handler card is a card or certificate that proves you completed food handler training. When you complete our ANSI-accredited California Online Food Handler Program, you will instantly receive a digital food handler card that you can access and print at any time.
How do I know if I need a food handler card?
Depending on your job title and the county where you work, you may be required to complete a food handler training program soon after starting a job in the food service industry. The easiest way to determine if you need a food handler card is to ask your employer, who can provide specific information about your training requirements and any important deadlines.
According to California Senate Bill No. 303 (SB 303), all food handlers are required to obtain a California food handler card after completing a food safety training course and passing an assessment. However, California food handler cards are not accepted in San Diego County, Riverside County or San Bernardino County. We currently offer a San Diego-approved food handler course for those who work in San Diego County.
The California Retail Food Code defines food handlers as individuals who prepare, store or serve food in a facility that sells food for human consumption to the general public. Some examples of food service employees who typically need a food handler card include cooks, servers, hosts, bartenders and barbacks.
How long do new employees have to complete food handler training?
Most food handlers in California are required by law to complete a state-approved food handler course within 30 days of employment.
However, you may need to complete training sooner if you work in Riverside, San Bernardino or San Diego county. Food handlers in San Diego County must earn a county-approved food handler card within 10 days of being hired.
Is this course accepted in the state of California?
Yes, the California Online Food Handler Program is ANSI-accredited and accepted in nearly all California counties. The only exceptions are Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties, which have county-specific food training requirements that are not covered in the California food handler program. Food handlers who work in San Diego County should take our county-authorized food handler course.
Is this course accepted in Riverside, San Bernardino or San Diego county?
No, this course is not valid if you work in Riverside, San Bernardino or San Diego county. These counties are exempt from California Food Handler Card Law guidelines because they had an established food handler program in place before the current law was enacted.
If you work in Riverside, San Bernardino or San Diego county, ask your employer how to meet food handler training requirements. Food handlers in San Diego county can take our county-approved course to earn their San Diego food handler card.
What is ANSI accreditation?
Our California Online Food Handler Program is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This means ANSI assures that our program meets the learning outcomes required to issue certificates in food handling. Food handlers in California are required to earn a food handler card from an ANSI-accredited organization.
The San Diego County Online Food Handler course is not ANSI accredited, but Food Handler Card Online meets the county's requirement for ANSI-accredited training providers.
How long will my California food handler card stay valid?
California and San Diego County food handler cards remain valid for three years after the issue date. However, Riverside County food handler cards expire after two years. Once your certificate expires, you must retake the course to renew.
How long does the California Online Food Handler Program take to complete?
The California food handler training course takes about 2.5 hours to complete. Because San Diego County sets its own training standards, San Diego County Online Food Handler Training takes at least 3 hours to complete, not including the final exam.
You can access both courses 24/7 and train at any pace you choose, logging off anytime without losing your place. There are no course timers.
Is there a final exam?
Yes, you are required to pass a final exam to receive your food handler card. The exam for the California food handler course contains 40 multiple-choice questions, and you have up to two attempts to pass with a score of at least 70%.
The San Diego County food handler course also has a multiple-choice final exam with 40 questions, but you must score at least 80% to pass. You have unlimited attempts to pass the exam for the San Diego County course.
How soon can I get my food handler card after completing the program?
After you pass the final exam, you can instantly access a digital version of your food handler card. By logging into your account, you can view your certificate at any time and print as many copies as you need at no cost.
What topics are covered in the California Online Food Handler Program?
Throughout the course, you'll learn about a wide range of food safety topics, including:
- Personal hygiene and food safety basics
- Types of foodborne illnesses
- Preventing food contamination
- Proper techniques for cleaning and sanitization
- Time and temperature controls
For a complete overview of the course modules and learning objectives, visit the course details page.
What do I do if I get locked out of my course?
Students will be locked out of the course if they cannot prove their identity throughout training. To prove your identity, you will be required to answer a series of personal questions before and during your online food handler training. If you cannot correctly answer your personal validation questions within 90 seconds, you will lose access to the course. To resume your training, follow the on-screen instructions to contact our customer service team by live chat or email.
What is your refund policy?
We maintain a commitment to your satisfaction with our training programs. If you are not happy with your learning experience, please view our refund policy to learn about your refund options.
Can't find the answers you're looking for? Contact our customer service team at 800-405-5417 to get help with any question you have about our courses.