Overview of Oregon Food Handler Certification
The state of Oregon requires all individuals who are involved in food preparation and handling in the food service industry to obtain food handler certification. This certification is also known as a food handler card - a wallet card an individual can carry with them that proves they have the knowledge and skills to safely and properly handle food that is served to the public. In some cases, an individual who has a food manager training certificate will not have to get a food handler card.
Obtaining a food handler card in Oregon involves taking a class and passing an exam. This process can be done completely online. Each county in Oregon issues food handler cards and offers classes, tests, and study guides. Food handler cards cost $10, can be replaced for $5, and in some cases, individuals won't have to pay for the training until they pass the test. Once a card is earned, it is valid for 3 years.
Oregon Food Handler Certification Requirements
All food service workers, except those with a valid food manager training certificate, must obtain a food handler card within 30 days of starting work. Cards earned out of state do not count, but an individual can get a card from any county in Oregon, regardless of where they live or work. In order to get a card, they must take a training course that has been approved by the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division. There are several approved online options, as well as a handful of scams out there, so it is best to find a course that is listed on the OHA Public Health Division's food safety website.
The Oregon food handler course lasts around one hour, but it can be done at your own pace and you can leave and pick up where you left off. Depending on who is offering the course, students may learn through informational texts or videos, or a combination of the two. The topics explored cover workplace safety and sanitary precautions, such as proper personal hygiene, proper food storage, employee illness control, cross-contamination, foodborne illnesses, and temperature control, among other things.
Careers for Certified Oregon Food Handlers
With an Oregon food handler card, there are various job titles within food establishments that individuals can choose from.
Food Preparation Workers
Food preparation workers assist food service managers and cooks by preparing food and keeping spaces, such as buffet tables, clean and organized. Much of their work is routine and they may be asked to be on their feet for many hours at a time. They typically perform tasks such as chopping meat, preparing fruits and vegetables, measuring ingredients, and ensuring all food is prepared and stored safely, as well as sanitizing their work areas. According to 2019 numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for food preparation workers was $24,800. The profession is expected to grow by 8% from 2018-2028.
Food Service Managers
Food service managers oversee the staff and daily operations at food establishments. They are in charge of ordering supplies; managing inventory, budgets, and payrolls; hiring and training new staff members; ensuring customer satisfaction; and making sure food safety standards are being followed. They may also supervise food preparation and presentation. The BLS stated in 2019 that the median annual pay for food service managers was $55,320. The profession is expected to grow by 11% from 2018-2028.
Waiters and Waitresses
Waiters and waitresses tend to customers' needs at food establishments. This includes greeting customers, giving menus, answering questions, taking food and beverage orders, sending those orders to the chefs, and bringing customers their orders as soon as they're ready. Additional job duties can include taking the customers' payment and cleaning the table once the customers have left. The BLS reported a median annual pay of $22,890 for waiters and waitresses as of 2019. The profession is expected to grow by 6% from 2018-2028.
Earning an Oregon food handler certification can be as simple as taking a short online course and passing a test. Since food handler certification is required for most employees of food establishments, it can be a great benefit for those who are looking to go into the food service industry.