A quick search for “Food Handler online” brings up thousands of options ranging from Certified Food Protection Manager to Food Handler Card and listing multi-hour course lengths. Let’s make something clear: Food Handler and Food Manager are two entirely different positions. While the two courses cover many of the same topics, the primary differences involve an employee’s job requirements, level of responsibility, and training requirements.
According to legislation, a Food Handler is defined as a person who works in a food facility and performs any duties involving the preparation, storage, or service of food in a food facility. These workers are usually food preparers, servers, and frontline employees who prepare, serve, and clean up in the kitchen and service areas.
Food Handlers are often required by law to have a Food Handler Certificate or Food Handler Card in order to prove they have a basic understanding of critical food handling procedures and food safety measures. While the legal requirements for Food Handler training varies state to state (and sometimes county to county), these courses can be useful for staff entering the food industry for the first time and can assist managers in onboarding staff and preparing them to eventually make the jump to manager.
On the other hand, a Food Manager (also known as a Person-in-Charge or Certified Food Protection Manager) is responsible for maintaining an extensive knowledge of food safety in order to effectively protect the customers of a food facility. Food Managers are typically also the owner, chef, or among the management team and are in a position to supervise Food Handlers. Not only are Food Managers on staff to ensure the correct practice of food safety procedures, but they also create, implement, and maintain the business’ food safety plans.
Ultimately food safety is essential to all food service operations because it prevents contamination, protects customers from illness, and contributes to ensuring a business maintains a good reputation in their community.