Illinois Food Handler FAQs

What is an Illinois food handler card?

A food handler card shows that you have passed an ANSI-accredited food safety training course that meets the standards set out by the state of Illinois. An Illinois food handler certificate is required for anybody who works as a food handler for their job. In addition to your certificate, this course provides a wallet-sized food handler card that you can carry on the job.

Who needs an Illinois food handler card?

Every Illinois employee who is classified as a food handler is required to have a food handler card. This includes any employee who handles unpackaged foods, food preparation surfaces, food equipment or utensils. The state gives you up to 30 days to earn your food handler certificate after starting work.

You need a food handler certificate if you work in a concession stand, food truck and some retail grocery stores. Some employees at non-restaurants are also required to get a card. Ask your manager if your job requires a food handler card. You do not need a food handler card if you are a volunteer or are working at a temporary event.

Will my food handler card expire?

An Illinois food handler card is good for three years from the date of issue. After three years, you need to retake the food handler course to refresh your knowledge and get a new card.

If you work in a non-restaurant workplace, your training will not expire as long as you remain working at that location.

Is the food handler course the same for new and renewing cardholders?

Yes, everybody takes the same Illinois food handler training whether this is your first time or you are refreshing your training after your card expires.

If I change jobs, do I need a new food handler card?

Your food handler card and certificate from Illinois food handler training does not expire if you change jobs. If you do not have a physical card or certificate from your previous job, you may need to take the food handler course again if you start working for a new employer.

What topics are covered in the Illinois Food Handler course?

The Illinois Food Handler course includes five modules. The topics included are foodborne illness, personal hygiene and food safety, food contamination prevention, cleaning and sanitation, and time and temperature. Each module helps you to learn more about safe food handling practices that prevent foodborne illness.

What are the testing requirements for the food handler card?

The course has five modules. Each module ends with a five-question quiz. You must score 70% on each quiz to move on to the next module. You can keep taking each quiz until you pass.

The final exam has 40 multiple-choice questions with a time limit of 180 minutes. You must score 70% on the final exam to receive your food handler card. You have up to two attempts to pass the exam.

Is this course ANSI-accredited?

Yes, our Illinois Food Handler course is fully accredited by ANSI. This training meets all the requirements of the Illinois Department of Health as well as training program standards from the American National Standards Institute. Your card will be accepted by every department of health in the state of Illinois.

How long is the Food Handler course?

Our Illinois Food Handler Card course has five modules and takes about two hours to complete.

Who pays for the food handler card course?

You will likely be required to pay for your training. Your employer is not required by the state to pay, but you must have a food handler card to work as a food handler. However, some businesses may reimburse their employees for the cost. Ask your manager about your company policy.

Can I take the food handler test again?

Yes. You need a minimum score of 70% to pass the final exam. If you do not pass after your first attempt, you can take the exam a second time. If you fail to earn a passing score after your second attempt, you must re-register and pay again.

Is the Illinois Food Handler Card course all online or in-person?

Our Illinois Food Handler course is completely online. You can finish the modules at your own speed and train anywhere with access to a computer and the internet.

Is a food handler card the same as a certified food protection manager certification?

No, a food handler card is required for every food handler at a restaurant or non-restaurant establishment. If you are a certified food protection manager, you do not need the food handler card as your training exceeds the food handler requirements.

I have a food safety certificate from another state. Can I use it for my Illinois food handler card?

No, you must complete an ANSI-accredited Illinois food handler course like ours to comply with Illinois Department of Public Health rules and regulations.

What is a non-restaurant?

Illinois considers some facilities like nursing homes or daycare centers to be non-restaurants. Meals are served to residents and students, but the employees may not prepare the food. If you receive food handler training at a non-restaurant location, you may not get a food handler card. This type of training is not transferrable to another job. Only a food handler card is good for three years at any restaurant or non-restaurant in Illinois.

Sources

American National Standards Institute. (n.d.). About ANSI. Retrieved from https://www.ansi.org/about/introduction

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, May 6). Handwashing: A Healthy Habit in the Kitchen. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/handwashing-kitchen.html

Illinois Department of Public Health. (n.d.). Food Safety. Retrieved from https://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/food-safety.html

Illinois General Assembly. (2013, August 27). Illinois Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act. Retrieved from https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1578

United States Department of Agriculture. (2022, March 22). Food Safety Basics. Retrieved from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics

United States Department of Agriculture. (2019, July 29). Clean THEN Sanitize: A One-Two Punch to Stop Foodborne Illness in the Kitchen. Retrieved from https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2019/08/27/clean-then-sanitize-one-two-punch-stop-foodborne-illness-kitchen