California Lays Out New Safety Law for Foodservice Industry

LENEXA, Kan. -- The new year brings with it a new law for the state of California and its foodservice workers. Effective July 1, more than one million foodservice workers -- restaurant employees who handle food -- within the state must obtain food safety certification and earn a California Food Handler Card, reported.

“The reaction overall from our members has been positive,” Leslie Huffman, vice president of marketing and communications for the Sacramento-based California Restaurant Association told the Web site. “Since food safety is a top priority, they see making sure restaurant employees are trained in basic food safety as a positive step in ensuring customer safety remains a top priority.”

Under the new bill, signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sept. 25 of last year, training courses must be available at no more than $15, with company's not required to pay for an employee's time and expense to take the training, according to

However, many companies that are members of the CRA already have food safety training in place for new employees, and sites with in-house food safety training programs are exempt from the new law upon meeting certain conditions.

California's local health departments will enforce the new law, making sure that companies meet state requirements, ensuring that workers have their California Food Handler Cards and keeping records that can be provided to local law enforcement upon request, the Web site stated.

“We don’t believe it will be a burden for local health departments since they are already going out and conducting health inspections,” Huffman added. “Verifying that employees have their California Food Handler card will add a step to the health inspection process but is not intended to be overly burdensome.”

The California Food Handler Card is valid for three years. According to, the new law was modeled after local laws in three California cities: Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego.

Maureen Keith, media relations manager for Washington, D.C.-based National Restaurant Association, told the Web site that four other states -- Arkansas, Florida, Oregon and Washington -- have their own state-wide food safety requirements and that more than two dozen other states have at least one jurisdiction that requires food handler employee training.

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