Food safety certification exams test an individual's knowledge of safe food handling procedures and food preparation techniques, with a focus on professional food service applications. To satisfy state and county regulations, a food worker must pass the exam to work in the hospitality industry.
A two- to three-hour lecture augmented with video instruction provides the information needed to complete a food safety exam. Specifically intended to prepare the participant for the test's questions, this instruction often leads to a high success rate. This instruction is often delivered online.
Food service certification exams usually consist of 50 to 75 multiple-choice questions, focusing on material expounded upon during a lecture class given prior to the exam. The questions in the test concern proper food storage methods, hazard analysis and prevention of food-borne illness.
Allotted one hour to complete the exam, participants must answer the questions under the supervision of a health department representative or a supervising member of the organization sponsoring the test. Most applicants complete the exam well within the time frame provided to complete the test.
County health departments administer the exam at the health department following the prerequisite food safety class, but testing locations of other organizations vary depending on the institution. In certain situations, such as that of a culinary school or food commissary, a representative of the testing organization will supervise the exam on-site.
As of July 2010, a food safety exam and instructional class costs between $20 and $150, depending on the organization and level of instruction. Inclusive in the cost of food safety certification, the fees typically remain static with little fluctuation. As employees change job classifications, they may have to take more advanced exams.
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.