food safety certificationWho knew there was so much information to be learned before you could handle food legally? If you think about it, you are the person responsible for handling things that people put into their body, so it makes sense that there would be such strict guidelines. Before you can get a job in the food industry, you’ll need to pass a food safety certification exam to prove that you have the knowledge needed to handle food properly. While there’s a lot of information to remember, a lot of it will seem like common sense once you read through it all. Plus, you’ve probably been practicing most of these guidelines while preparing your own food without even realizing it! Whether you’re an owner, a manager or an employee of a food establishment, you’ll need to know the food safety guidelines like the back of your hand. Ready to learn?

Working When Ill

If you’re at home sick with the stomach flu, are you going to be the one to prepare a large dinner for 20 guests that night? Probably not. Common sense tells you that when you are sick with a contagious illness, you should stay far away from others in order to avoid spreading your germs around. The same is true for working around food. If you are exhibiting symptoms of a contagious illness, call out of work! Trust me, your boss will thank you. You shouldn’t go back into work and handle food until it has been 24 hours since your last contagious symptom has disappeared.

If you have an infected cut, burn or other wound on your hand or wrist, cover it up! Make sure it is properly washed (more on proper washing later), and cover it with both a band-aid and a food handling glove.

Washing Your Hands

food safety certificationThink you can run your hands under the sink for a couple of seconds and call it a day? Nope, not in the food industry. Hand washing is strictly enforced, since hands can carry tons of germs that can be passed onto the food you are preparing. Proper hand washing consists of running hands under warm water and scrubbing with soap for at least 20 seconds. When you dry your hands, you should do so with a single use towel, paper towel or an air dryer. Never dry your hands with a towel or paper towel that someone has used before you.

You should always wash your hands:

Remember: wearing gloves is not a substitution for washing your hands!

When you should change your gloves:

The Causes of Foodborne Illness

If the employees of a food establishment don’t follow the food safety guidelines properly and their customers get sick, the establishment can get in a lot of trouble. It’s important to know what can cause foodborne illness and what you can do to prevent it from happening.

The Causes


Proper Temperatures

* The danger zone is described as being between 41 and 135 degrees F *

food safety certificationWhen food is being cooled or heated, those handling the food should make sure that it does not remain in the danger zone for too long. If any food has remained between these temperatures for over four hours, it is no longer safe to eat. When food remains in this range of temperatures, bacteria can grow at a much faster rate, increasing the risk of foodborne illness. Even though you can refrigerate or reheat this food to the proper temperature, toxins from the bacteria that has grown over the 4+ hours will remain.

Hot foods should be served at 135 degrees or hotter, while cold foods should be served at 41 degrees or colder. In order to keep hot food hot, stir it occasionally and keep a lid on it. When keeping food cold in the refrigerator or freezer, make sure it is covered as well.

The proper temperatures for cooking various food vary, so make sure you consult your manager for the proper temperatures.

Contamination of Food

Food can be contaminated in many ways, from being touched with bare hands to coming in contact with a surface that has recently been cleaned with a chemical.

Proper Grooming and Behavior

food safety certificationEven if you’re working in the back of the kitchen and no customers ever see you, it’s still important to practice proper grooming and behavior techniques in order to avoid contaminating the food in any way.

Getting Certified

Many states now allow you to take a food safety course right from the comfort of your own computer. You can take the course, review it as long as you’d like, and then take the test when you feel prepared. If you pass, you’ll get a certification notice that you can print out that day and your official food safety certification card will come to you in the mail a couple of weeks later. Some other states will require you to sit down and take the exam with a class. You should ask your manager or look online to find out which your state prefers.

Once you have been certified, you can now legally work in any food establishment! If you want a more in-depth look on everything you need to know about food safety certification, Udemy has a course that will help you prepare for your exam.

Featured course

Food Safety in catering (UK)

Last Updated February 2020

  • 1.5 total hours
  • 34 lectures
  • All Levels
4.7 (127)

Maintain excellent food safety and score well on your next environmental health officer visit. | By Nick Dore

Explore Course

Food Safety students also learn

Empower your team. Lead the industry.

Get a subscription to a library of online courses and digital learning tools for your organization with Udemy for Business.

Request a demo