What Subjects Are Taught in a Typical Food Handler Course?

A food handler course is a necessary part of the education process for cooks, restaurant managers, food delivery people, dietary assistants, servers, caterers and people hoping to enter these positions. Read on to learn more about this program. Schools offering Art of Cooking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Food Handler Courses

Anyone who works with food on a regular basis will need to take a food handler class. It often covers safety, sanitation and illness prevention as well as pest control and Department of Health (DOH) postings. Specific subjects taught include hand washing, microbiology, food allergies, temperature control and others found listed below.

Important Facts About Food Handler Courses

Programs Free, employer-paid or individually paid; available in English, Spanish and Chinese; self-paced
Certificate Levels Food Handler Certificate (good for 2 years)
Online Fully available
Possible Careers Working in cafeterias, grocery stores, hospitals, schools, restaurants
Median Salary (2018)$23,730 (Food Preparation Workers)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)8% (Food Preparation Workers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Important Subjects in This Field

Prevention of Food-borne Illnesses

This course discusses the most effective ways to prevent the spread of illnesses through food handling. It includes washing hands effectively, avoiding cross-contamination and making sure food is cooked at the proper temperatures.

Employee Health and Hygiene

This area of study covers ways to prevent illness, such as calling in sick when you're vomiting, have diarrhea, strep throat or are jaundiced. It also covers making sure people with these symptoms aren't working with food. The policy of avoiding food handling if you have infected skin is addressed as well.

Washing Hands

Aspiring food handlers learn about washing their hands when they're working with food (after using the restroom, washing dishes, taking out the trash, handling food or animal products, or before or after removing gloves). The course also includes the right way to wash hands in the food industry.

Food Allergies

This subject deals primarily with properly assisting customers who have food allergies and making sure the food they're being served won't negatively affect their health.

Temperature Control

Candidates learn the right temperatures for cooking meat to destroy hazardous bacteria. They also learn the right temperatures to freeze foods so bacteria can't grow.


The study of microbiology from a food-handling perspective looks at pathogen and microbe control as well as how to minimize risks and protect yourself.

Dispensing and Serving

While studying this topic, candidates learn how to set a table and serve food properly. They also learn how to clear tables and keep self-serve areas clean.

Storing and Receiving Food

This course examines how to receive food, check for spoilage, and then how to properly store it.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

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  • Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Georgia: Valdosta
  • West Virginia Northern Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • West Virginia: Wheeling
  • West Georgia Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Georgia: Waco
  • Waukesha County Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Wisconsin: Pewaukee
  • Washburn Institute of Technology

    Campus Locations:

    • Kansas: Topeka
  • Vincennes University

    Campus Locations:

    • Indiana: Vincennes
  • Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center

    Campus Locations:

    • Virginia: Fishersville
  • Spartanburg Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • South Carolina: Spartanburg