Food Handler Food Manager

Food Safety Certification: Do I Need A Food Handler Certificate in Ohio?

Posted by
Trust20 Contributors • 8 minute read

Food safety regulations in Ohio require different levels of training and certification–but is a food handler certificate one of them?

The regulations around food safety training and certification vary across the country, and most states have quite a bit of nuance to their requirements. In Ohio, the risk level of your establishment and the level of your role determine which credentials you need. 

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has two required levels of certification: Person-In-Charge and Food Manager. And while a Food Manager Certification is required in many jurisdictions, a Person-In-Charge Certification is a unique credential, specifically required by the State of Ohio.

One of the most important things to know about a Person-In-Charge Certification? It is not the same thing as a Food Handler Certificate. In fact, food handler cards are not a statewide requirement in Ohio. 

We’ve already compared Ohio’s Person-in-Charge Certification and Food Manager Certification. But what is the difference between a Person-in-Charge Certification and a Food Handler Certificate? Read on to learn about the two!

Who needs a Person-in-Charge Certification in Ohio?

All About Food Handler Training in Ohio

A Note on Food Manager Certification in Ohio

Food Safety Credential Comparison

Who needs a Person-in-Charge Certification in Ohio?

Ohio requires certain foodservice establishments–regardless of risk level–to have a designated person in charge on site during all hours of operation when a manager may not be available. 

This makes a person in charge a leadership role!

Anyone who works in a foodservice establishment that needs this type of certification must complete a course and an ungraded written or verbal exercise that has been approved by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). 

The ODH does not set an expiration for a Person-In-Charge Certification. However, when the Food and Drug Administration or the Ohio legislature makes food code updates, it is a good idea to take a course again to keep your knowledge up-to-date.

What is covered in a Person-In-Charge Certification program?

If you decide that an Ohio Person-In-Charge Certification is right for you, always confirm that you select a training program that has been approved by the Ohio Department of Health. 

Approved courses, like Trust20’s online-only program, should cover six major topics, including: 

All About Food Handler Training in Ohio

First things first, the ODH does not require food workers in Ohio to have Food Handler Certificates. It is always a good idea to check with your local health department to ensure your county, city, or town does not have its own requirements.

While it is not required, food handler training can be incredibly helpful to a foodservice establishment–and a foodservice career! From servers to sous chefs to dishwashers, his type of course is for anyone who may handle food in the course of their work day.

The goal of these programs is to instill the essentials of food safety best practices in everyone on staff. Operators can reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses by providing this training to their team–or you can give yourself a leg up in your next interview by earning your certificate ahead of time.

What is covered in a Food Handler Certificate program?

If you decide that food handler training is right for you, it’s always a good idea to ensure the course you choose has been accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB).

Accredited courses, like Trust20’s interactive, online training, should cover nine major topics, including:

  • The Importance of Food Safety

  • How Food Becomes Unsafe

  • Employee Health & Personal Hygiene

  • Receiving & Storing Food

  • Preventing Cross-Contamination

  • Time & Temperature Control

  • Preparing & Handling Food

  • Cleaning & Sanitizing

  • Pest Control.

A Note on Food Manager Certification in Ohio

A Food Manager Certification is a requirement for at least one person on staff in Ohio establishments defined as Risk Level III and IV. This is a key differentiator from Person-In-Charge Certifications, which are required for establishments designated at Risk Levels I, II, III, or IV. 

This is important to note because a lower risk establishment does not necessarily need to have someone with a Food Manager Certification on staff–a Person-In-Charge Certification would be enough to meet the requirements of the ODH.

A food manager must have supervisory responsibility and may not need to be on site during all working hours. However, they can only work at one physical location. So, if you operate a restaurant group and your establishments have been designated with Risk Levels III or IV, you need separate individuals with Food Manager Certifications at each establishment.

The State of Ohio technically does not have an expiration date for Food Manager Certifications. However, the guidelines set forth by ANAB and the Conference for Food Protection do require managers to re-take a certification exam every five years–so be sure to confirm whether or not your credentials have an expiration date.

Take note! The ODH requirements are different than national standards for food manager certification. You must take a course and exam that have been specifically approved by the ODH in order to receive a Food Manager Certification in Ohio.

Food Safety Credential Comparison

For all you visual learners, here is a side-by-side comparison of the programs we’ve discussed in this article.


Person-in-Charge Certification

Food Handler Certificate

Food Manager Certification

Who is it for?

Shift Leader/Manager

Entry/All Levels


Is it required?



Dependent on Risk Level

What Risk Level
requires this?




What is the cost?




How long is my credential valid?

Never expires

Three years

Five years

Big Picture

It can be confusing to determine which training or certification you need for your role, especially when states like Ohio have their own food safety certification programs. In Ohio, Person-In-Charge Certification and Food Manager Certification are the two credentials essential to foodservice establishments. Food Handler Certificates are not required.

Whether or not you personally are required to have food safety training, these programs exist to help foodservice establishments prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses and anyone who works with food can benefit from taking the time to learn about food safety best practices!