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New Illinois Law: Are Your Restaurant Employees Certified to Handle Food?
Brian R. Israel

Effective July 1, 2014, individuals working in the state of Illinois who handle food must receive or obtain a food handler’s certificate. The certificate is obtained after the individual passes an accredited or approved training course – either through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) – in basic food handling principles within 30 days of employment and every three years thereafter.

In addition to restaurants and food trucks, the new law also impacts other establishments that serve food for immediate consumption, such as nursing homes, schools, licensed day care facilities, hospitals, and long-term care facilities.

Who Needs to be Certified?
Certification is required, with the exception of those who already hold a food service manager certification, for all food handlers including chefs, cooks, bartenders, servers, dishwashers and any individual working with unpackaged food, food equipment or utensils or food-contact surfaces.

What You Need to Know About Certification
After the food handler passes a certification exam, he or she will receive a certificate that is valid for three years from the date of issuance. The certificate is the property of the individual who obtained it. The time and certification course fees are not the responsibility of the employer, although employers do need to be sure each required employee has obtained their certification to satisfy health inspections.

Enforcement of the Law
Compliance with the law will be enforced by local health departments and is being implemented with the intent to improve the quality and safety of food served to customers.  Health inspectors can require a food server to show verification that he has received the proper food safety training and holds a valid certificate.  Inspectors are expected to limit enforcement to education of the law until January 1, 2015 in order to allow restaurants and other required establishments to spend the coming months working on getting their employees in compliance with the new law.

If you would like to discuss food handler certification needs for your employees, contact Brian Israel at [email protected] or call him at 312.670.7444.

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