In the state of Illinois, getting a food handler certificate (also known as a food handlers card) can be quite the headache.
But that’s where we come in…
We want to make the Illinois food handler certificate process simple – getting you in the restaurant as soon as possible. Don’t bother scanning through outdated government or deceiving course-provider websites. Here, you’ll find accurate, updated and important information needed to efficiently to earn yourself an Illinois food handler certification.
Apron up, let’s dive in. 👩🍳
Who is required to receive a food handlers card?
In the state of Illinois, EVERY county requires paid food-related employees (part-time or full-time) to obtain a food handler certification. Although some states in the U.S. don’t have this requirement, the Illinois food and safety laws are a little more strict than most.
Simply put, everyone who handles food for a food establishment and/or restaurant in the state of Illinois MUST complete a state-approved food safety course. After successful completion of the course and examination, you will then be granted a food handlers certification by the course provider.
Important: To save you some time, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite Illinois state-approved food handler course providers in the section below.
All new Illinois food handler employees are given 30 days from the date of hire to earn a food handlers certification. For an example of what that official certification should look like at the end of the day, click here (pdf).
It’s also important to keep in mind that all Illinois food employee certifications expire three years from the issue date!
What type of employees are considered a food handler in Illinois?
By Illinois state law, any PAID employee working for a restaurant, that deals directly with the food product(s) is considered a food handler.
Here’s the definition of food handler, courtesy of the Illinois Department of Public Health:
“Food employee” or “food handler” means an individual working with unpackaged food, food equipment or utensils, or food-contact surfaces.
…If someone working in a facility is not a food handler on a regular basis, but fills in as a food handler when needed, they must have food handler training.
This means that all employees directly involved in the storage, preparation, or service of the food is a food handler. Simply put, nearly everyone in the food facility must receive an Illinois food handler certificate, even the host or hostess!
To break it down even further, here’s a list of job titles that REQUIRE food handlers training in the state of Illinois:
- Line Cook
- Food Prep
- Kitchen Manager
- Food Runner
- Host/ Hostess who handle food
- Food-truck workers
- Storage workers
Who does NOT need a food handlers certification in Illinois?
Those that are NOT required to receive Illinois food handler certificate training are mainly (1) unpaid volunteers, (2) those who already posses a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) certification, and (3) temporary food establishment employees.
Additionally, employees working for non-restaurant establishments do NOT have to receive training unless you are an actual food worker in that establishment.
Here’s a list of non-restaurant establishments that are exempted from the Illinois food handler certificate requirement:
- Nursing homes
- Licensed day care homes and facilities
- Long-term care facilities
- Retail food stores
**Keep in mind, if you work in a non-restaurant facility in the state of Illinois but directly work with unpackaged food products, you are STILL required to receive a food handler certification. If you are unsure, please be sure to double check with your non-restaurant employer or manager.
Where to Get Your Illinois Food Handler Certification: Training & Course Providers
The state of Illinois requires food workers to receive their food handlers training from an ANSI-accredited organization. ANSI stands for the American National Standards Institution. Pretty fancy, yeah?
For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of the top ANSI-accredited food hander certification programs in the state:
For the complete list of Illinois food handler training providers, simply click here.
As you will tell, there’s a lot to choose from. If you’re still undecided on which provider to receive training from, ask around your workplace! Your fellow kitchen colleagues and/or management should have a good idea on what course to choose from.
Steps to get an Illinois Food Handlers Certificate (aka Food Handlers Card)
- Click on this link to select an ANSI-accredited online provider. We recommend you ask the person in charge of the food service business which training they accept/prefer.
- Take the training and test online. (Course details are provided in this post)
- Once you’ve successfully completed the test you’ll get a certificate from the online course provider, not from the county.
- Print out multiple copies of your certification or save the file to your desktop at home. This is just a safety measure, just in case you lose you original Illinois food handler certificate.
- Provide your employer with a copy of your certificate.
All Illinois food handler certification programs are available online… and are readily accessible through many sources.
The training and course itself can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours to complete. But they can indeed take longer if you wish to study and review important information in order to be better prepared for the final exam.
The training/course(s) are usually followed by a 40-question multiple-choice quiz on all things food preparation and food safety. In order to successfully pass the Illinois food handlers quiz (also known as the food handler assessment), students must answer AT LEAST 30 questions correctly. This means you must get a 75% in order to pass!
But please keep in mind, grade requirements vary depending on which test you take. Most Illinois food safety tests require a 70-80% at minimum.
Are you nervous yet? Well don’t be. Most Illinois food safety courses allow you to take the quiz twice.
(Also, be sure to take advantage of our practice exams we provided in the section below. As they always say, practice makes perfect!)
How much does the Illinois Food Handler Certification cost?
Online food safety courses in Illinois range anywhere between $5-10. If you are taking a food safety course that costs more than $10, we strongly urge you to reconsider as there are cheaper course options available.
Illinois Food Handlers Practice Tests
For your convenience, we’ve put together the best Illinois food handlers card practice tests. We’ve heard from many sources that these tests nearly replicate the questions that you’ll be receiving on the final exam!
Is Your Illinois Food Handlers Certification Expired or Lost?
If you lost your Illinois food handlers certification, simply contact your course provider and ask for a copy. Additionally, you can simply log back into your course provider account using the same username and password as before, and access their printing option. Always remember to create duplicate copies of your food handlers card.
In Illinois, your food handlers card expires 3 years after the issuance date. To renew your Illinois food handlers card, you must sign up for another state-approved food safety course and pass their test all over again! This ensures that everyone in the state of Illinois is stays up to date with proper food safety procedures.
Minimum Age Required to Handle Food in the State of Illinois:
- We believe most Illinois food handler certificate programs require a participant to be at least 13 years of age in order to take their course but that is not a rule the food code addresses.
State of Illinois Food Handler Qualifications:
- There are no restrictions for individuals to receive food handler cards in the state of Illinois.
- Employees who work directly with food that have specific medical symptoms or food illnesses need to be extra cautious. In this case, it would be best for you to consult with your medical provider.
Other Requirements That May Be Helpful:
- Driver’s License and/or Passport
- Good Communication Skills
- Being able to stand long periods of time
- Knowledge of basic food safety
For more information, please contact your Local City Clerk’s office… Or visit our Food Handlers homepage.