Food Handler Training Requirements in California

California food handler training requirements at a glance:

  • Complete an ANAB-accredited California food handler program within 30 days of employment
  • Or get a county-specific food handler card if you work in Riverside, San Bernardino or San Diego counties
  • Pass your final exam with a score of 70% or higher
  • Provide your food handler card to your employer
  • Renew your food handler card when it expires (three years after issue date)

The requirements for food handler training may seem complicated at first, but with the right resources, you can easily understand the California Food Handler Card Law and finish the training needed to work in the food service industry.

Our ANAB-accredited food handler program is ideal for most food service employees in California, but your employer, your job duties, your facility type and the county where you work can all affect your training requirements. You may even work in a county that has a unique training program.

We'll explain the latest statewide requirements for food safety training and describe some scenarios where you would need county-specific training. You'll also learn which types of food workers don't require a food handler card. If you need additional clarification about your employer's training requirements, your manager or supervisor can provide more specific information.

California Food Handler Card Law Guidelines

In 2011, California passed Senate Bill No. 303, a law designed to better protect the public from food safety hazards. Also known as the California Food Handler Card Law and SB 303, the law outlined new food safety training requirements for workers who prepare, store or handle food.

Under SB 303, food handlers are required to complete an ANAB-accredited food handler program within 30 days of starting a job in the food service industry. This requirement applies to most restaurant positions in California.

According to California law, a food handler is any food service employee who works with:

  • Unpackaged food
  • Food equipment
  • Food utensils
  • Surfaces that contact food

To receive a food handler card, the law states that you must complete a qualifying food handler training program and pass the final exam with a score of at least 70%.

The California Online Food Handler Program is ANAB-accredited through our partner StateFoodSafety and fully complies with SB 303 training requirements. In addition, it meets state and federal standards for food safety training outlined in California Retail Food Code 2018 and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 2017 Food Code.

Is the California Online Food Handler Program Accepted in Every County?

No. Some counties in California established food handler programs before SB 303 was passed. These counties are exempt from the California Food Handler Card Law because of county-specific training requirements.

As a result, the California Online Food Handler Program is not accepted in three counties:

If you work in any of these counties, you must complete a food handler training program that is designed for your specific county. Find more information about county-specific training requirements by clicking the name of the county where you work above.

Who Is Exempt from Food Handler Training in California?

Workers in certain California food facilities are not required to obtain a food handler card. You are exempt from food handler training if you work in any of the following types of facilities:

  • Bed and breakfasts
  • Certified farmers markets
  • Commissaries
  • Convenience stores
  • Drug stores
  • Elderly nutrition programs administered by the California Department of Aging
  • Facilities used to confine adults or minors (jails, juvenile halls, camps, ranches or residential facilities)
  • Food facilities with approved in-house training
  • Food facilities subject to a collective bargaining agreement
  • Grocery stores (including grocery delis, bakeries, and meat and produce departments all under one owner)
  • Licensed health care facilities
  • Mobile support units
  • Restricted food service facilities
  • Retail stores that earn a majority of sales from a pharmacy
  • School cafeterias (public or private)
  • Temporary food facilities (food booths)
  • Venues with snack bars that earn a majority of sales from admission tickets (does not include areas with restaurant-style service)

If you aren't sure whether you're exempt from food handler training, ask your manager if your food facility qualifies as any of the exempt facilities listed above.

Which Employers Offer In-House Food Handler Training Programs?

If your company offers an approved in-house food handler training program, you can get your food handler card through on-the-job training.

Companies with an approved food handler training program include:

  • A&W Restaurants
  • Burger King Corporation
  • Carlson Restaurants Worldwide
  • Captain D's Seafood, Inc.
  • Carrabba's Italian Grill
  • Chart House Enterprise
  • Chevys Fresh Mex
  • Chez Pierre
  • Chick-fil-A, Inc.
  • Chili's Bar and Grill Restaurants
  • Darden Restaurants
  • Denny's
  • Disneyland
  • Friendly's
  • Golden Corral
  • HMSHost
  • Hooters of America, Inc.
  • Jack in the Box
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)
  • Long John Silver's
  • Marriott International, Inc.
  • McDonald's Corporation
  • Medieval Times
  • On the Border Restaurants
  • Panera Bread Bakery-Café
  • Papa John's International
  • Pizza Hut
  • Popeyes
  • The Ritz-Carlton
  • Roadhouse Grill, Inc.
  • Tony Roma's (Romacorp, Inc.)
  • Steak 'n Shake, Inc.
  • Taco Bell Corporation
  • TGI Friday's
  • Wendy's International, Inc.

Your employer must provide food safety training free of charge during normal work hours to be exempt from California food handler training requirements. Talk to your manager for more information.