Every year people get sick from eating contaminated food and water. As a food handler, learning about safe food handling practices can help reduce the number of people getting sick. The Food Handler Course will teach you how to keep food as safe as possible in order to protect your community.
Important for Food Service Premises
As of July 1, 2018, if you are an owner or operator of a food service premises you are required to ensure that there is at least one food handler or supervisor on the premises who has completed food handler training during every hour in which the premises is operating. A food service premises is defined as “any food premise where meals or meal portions are prepared for immediate consumption or sold or served in a form that will permit immediate consumption on the premises or elsewhere” (O. Reg 493/17, Section 1(1)). These premises include restaurants, grocery store hot deli counters, institutional kitchens, special event food vendor, community centres, schools, churches and special events.
On this page
Course Information and Registration
Online Food Handler Course
- 24 hour login access from any internet connected computer.
- Must register for exam separately.
- Available in the following languages: English, French, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, and Arabic
- 1 hour exam that is written in person.
- Minimum grade of 70% or higher to get certificate.
- 50 multiple choice questions.
- Accommodation provided (e.g. reading exam).
(including HST and fees)
Self-Study (Course Materials Only)
- Printed manual can be purchased at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit offices.
- Free download of the “Food Safety: A Guide for Ontario’s Foodhandlers” manual also available.
- Must register for exam separately.
(including HST and fees)
Be sure you register for both the online course AND the exam. While the online course is offered free of charge, there is a $10 fee to write the exam.
Food Handler Course FAQs
The Food Handler Course is for:
- Food handlers at restaurants or food service premises. A food handler is any person who comes into contact with any utensil or with food during its preparation, processing, packaging, service, storage or transportation
- Supervisors of food premises
- Managers of food premises
Food Premises that Require Certified Food Handler
Community Centres and Arenas
Community centres and arenas often have food booths, cafeterias, banquet facilities or special events. Under the Food Premises Regulation 493/17, every food service premises is required to have a minimum of 1 certified food handler on site during each hour of operation.
Child Nutrition Programs
Many schools participate in child nutrition programs where snacks and meals are prepared for children. These food service premises are required to have a minimum of 1 certified food handler on site during each hour of operation. This also applies to before and after school programs.
A special event where food is being served falls under the Food Premises Regulation 493/17. Special event organizers and vendors must submit a special event application to public health for approval. Special events are required to have a minimum of 1 certified food handler on site during each hour of operation.
Religious Organizations, Service Clubs and Fraternal Organizations who rent out their kitchen
Religious organizations, service clubs and fraternal organizations who rent their kitchen to users outside of the organization are required to have a minimum of 1 certified food handler during each hour of operation is in effect.
Religious Organizations, Service Clubs and Fraternal Organizations
Religious organizations, service clubs and fraternal organizations may be exempt from parts of the Food Premises Regulation 493/17. These organizations may not be required under the regulation to have a certified food handler at the food premises, however it is strongly recommended.
Special Events for Religious Organizations, Service Clubs and Fraternal Organizations
Religious organizations, service clubs and fraternal organizations may be exempt from the regulation if they are the ones hosting the special event. These organizations are still required to submit a special event application, keep a list of persons donating hazardous food items, and post a notice informing patrons the event is not inspected.
Please Note: To determine if your premise is exempt, please call us. Only a Public Health Inspector can determine your exemption status and what requirements you need to comply with.
The course will provide you with an understanding of the following areas:
- Public Health Legislation
- Role of Public Health Inspectors
- Foodborne Illness
- Time and Temperature Control
- Receiving and Storage
- Microbiological Contamination
- Personal Hygiene
- Cleaning and Sanitizing
- Pest Control
- Food Safety Management
You will receive your certificate in the mail within 15-20 days from the date of the exam. You must achieve a grade of 70% or higher to get your certificate. In the mail, you will receive a letter stating your grade, a wallet sized certificate and letter sized certificate.
If you don’t pass your exam, it is recommended you take some time to review the course content again before you book another exam. You don’t have to take the course again. If you need help writing your exam (e.g. reading exam), please let us know.
No, unfortunately the Health Unit does not provide off-site private food handler course or exam to organizations or businesses.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will only accept outside food handling training certificates from a provider that has been approved by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Check their website for a list of approved food handling training providers that we accept. We also accept food handler training certificates from other Ontario Public Health Units.
Yes, you can get food handler training from another provider if they have been approved by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Check their website for a list of approved food handling training providers that we accept.
We also accept food handler training certificates from other Ontario Public Health Units.
No, you don’t need to take the full food handler course if your certificate expired.
We do recommend that you review the self-study materials before re-writing the exam. The full online course also continues to be available free of charge and can be re-taken multiple times if desired.