Choosing the Right Food Safety Training Course

Female in classroom

Whether you are a new employee in a restaurant or a grocery store, an experienced manager needing to renew your certification, or a brand new bar tender, you will most likely be required to take some type of food safety training. Food safety training courses come in a variety of formats. There are in-person classes, textbooks, online books, and online courses, just to name a few. With so many options, how do you know which one is best for you? Consider these factors when choosing any food safety training course:

Quality of Training
The quality of the training you choose is extremely important because you will be using what you learn on a daily basis. You will want to focus on various components of the training that could help you learn the best. For example, an online course may provide interactivities that can help you practice and retain the information you have learned. In addition, you will be able to see and understand how to handle various situations at your workplace. Videos, images, and perhaps even narration may be important to you. These can help you remember what you learn and provide a variety of learning methods so the course will not seem as monotonous.

In addition to how the training is set up, you will want to make sure that the information you receive is current and reliable. For example, most food handler and manager training courses are based on a version of the FDA Food Code and local health department requirements. The Food Code is updated every four years with the most current version issued in 2017.

Another important aspect of a course you should pay attention to is how simple it is to use. This may not be as much of a factor in classroom training, but for online training it is very important. If you can easily maneuver through the website or course you will have a better learning experience and can focus more on the important concepts you are learning.

Style of Learning
There are several styles of learning: visual, aural, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. People learn in different ways, and may consequently prefer certain methods of learning. Some individuals may prefer a classroom setting to help them focus on what is being taught. Classroom training is helpful because you have an instructor who is able to answer your questions right then. However, this type of training does not provide the option of reviewing a concept as many times as you wish. Some concepts are difficult to grasp and may take more than one repetition for you to understand.

Other individuals prefer to hear or read the instruction more than once and like to take their time understanding difficult concepts. Online training allows for this kind of flexibility where you can review concepts as many times as you need to in various styles of learning. However, in online training there is usually not an instructor available to answer questions you may have.

If you can easily fit training into your schedule, you have more flexibility in choosing between an in-person class or an online option. If you have a very busy schedule, however, you may feel like you cannot fit a two- or three-hour class into your schedule. With online training, you are able to take the course on your own time and at your own pace. This helps you have a better learning experience because you are able to focus more on what is being taught, and not on where you need to be next.

Price may be a large factor in your decision about your food handler course, especially if you need to pay for the course yourself. There are a few components to the price to consider. For example, in some areas the health department requires you to pay a fee on top of the training company’s fee. Some companies will collect the health department fee with their courses, which can make it seem twice as expensive as other companies. It is important to know whether or not there are required fees in your area and if a particular training company collects those fees. Being educated on how pricing works will help you make a better decision.

Your local health department might require that your training be accredited or approved. What does this mean? It means that the company you take your training from has met certain standards set by a government agency, such as your local health department, or by a separate approval company that your health department approves of, such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Some programs are very inexpensive, but have not been approved, which means that you would not receive a valid food safety training permit. This could be problematic for you and your company. Most health departments will provide a list of companies they approve for food handler permits. Be sure to check that list, or make sure the company you choose fits the regulatory guidelines set by your health department. If you have any questions about approved courses, contact your health department.

And there you have it! You are now ready to make a more educated decision about your food safety training course. To learn more about food handler training, food manager training, and alcohol server training, visit

Janilyn Hutchings

Updated: June 7, 2019 — 2:32 pm
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