If you are planning to become a caregiver in Arizona, it is important to keep in mind that the Nursing Care Institution Administration (NCIA) requires you to have a valid food handlers’ certificate in order to complete Certified Caregiver Training and be issued a certificate. Food preparation is part of the duties of caregivers and responsible food handling is especially crucial when dealing with senior clients. Below is a comprehensive guide on how to get a food handlers card in AZ.
Do You Need a Food Handlers Card in Arizona?
Generally, the Arizona Food Handlers card is required for all people who are involved in food preparation, storage, or service in commercial and some non-commercial settings. So, why do caregivers in Arizona still need a food handlers’ certificate? Well, Arizona has some of the strictest food laws in the country.
The Arizona State Legislation A.R.S 35-136 (H)(4)(g) specifies the situations under which one needs to obtain certification – with caregivers being among the professionals who are expected to acquire this crucial document.
As we all know, the elderly require special care as far as their diet is concerned. As a caregiver you may from time to time be required to assign, prepare, or even deliver food to the clients under your care. This explains why every caregiver operating within the boundaries of Arizona is expected to be duly certified as a trained and competent food handler.
Why Should Caregivers Take Food Handling Training?
Whether a requirement or not, food handling training and certification is important especially when the vulnerable in our society are involved. According to FoodSafety.Gov, folks aged 65 and above are more likely to fall ill due to foodborne diseases. One of the main reasons for this is that our immune response becomes weaker with time.
Besides that, old people tend to hold onto food longer because their digestive systems are slower, something that leaves them more susceptible to foodborne bacterial infections.
In a nutshell, you need to get a food handlers certificate if you are a caregiver because:
1. It Improves Safety
The most obvious reason for being certified as a caregiver is that it helps prevent illness. People with proper training are better prepared to eliminate contaminants during food preparation.
What’s more, food safety training involves addressing various food allergies effectively helping you make good food choices for your clients when called upon.
2. Reduces Food Wastage
Improper storage and cross-contamination are but a few reasons why otherwise good food ends up in the bin. Food handling training can minimize the amount of food you get to waste, thereby making you a more efficient caregiver and making the world a better place too.
3. Keeps You Safe
Chances are that you will end up eating or tasting your client’s food as you handle and/or prepare it. What’s more, the process of preparing food by itself involves the use of equipment and tools that could harm you. Having the right kind of certification can help you keep yourself (and those around you) safe from workplace infections and injuries.
4. Compliance with the Arizona State Laws
Getting a food handlers card in Arizona is not just a wise thing for you to do for your career, but it is less expensive than the fines and fees that may arise from safety violations. Should a food safety issue arise, it can have a negative effect on your image or career. A severe foodborne ailment can even lead to lifelong consequences or even death.
5. Protects Your Clients from Health Risks
As a caregiver, obtaining a food handling certificate is an essential part of protecting your clients from health risks that may include allergic reactions and food poisoning from eating contaminated food.
According to Federal authorities, roughly 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses are reported annually – roughly 1 in every 6 Americans.
The vast majority of food-borne ailments are due to food handling mistakes and issues relating to poor personal hygiene. This is why it is important for all caregivers to get adequate training before embarking on their assignments.
As a well-trained food handler, you will be expected to be familiar with:
· The different causes of food contamination & different types of contamination
· Some potentially hazardous food items (also referred to as high-risk foods)
· The common causes of food-borne diseases
· How to best store, prepare, and serve food
· Ways to clean and decontaminate utensils, dishes, equipment, and any surfaces that come in contact with food
· The importance of personal hygiene in your work environment
· Identifying the most common food allergens, their signs, symptoms & how to prevent them
Of course, that’s by no means an exhaustive list of the skills you get to learn as you undertake your food handling training. But it pretty much sums up some of the key skills you can obtain as part of protecting your clients from risks arising from food poisoning or food allergies.
How To Get a Food Handlers Card Arizona
Who needs a food handlers card in Arizona? Well, anyone who handles unpackaged food, food-contact surfaces, or food equipment at their place of work requires a food handling certificate. As meal preparation is one of the basic duties of caregiving, it is important that caregivers have training and certification.
The Arizonian state law requires that you obtain the handlers card within one month (30 days) of starting work. This gives you the flexibility to work and still be able to get your food-handling paperwork in order.
Wondering how to get food handlers card in Arizona? Here are the steps involved:
Step 1: Choose the Right Trainer
To qualify for the food handler card AZ, you will need to complete a food handler course offered by an organization certified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
ANSI is the body charged with the role of overseeing standards and conformity to standards across the country. Established in 1918, the nonprofit organization ensures that practitioners from various industries meet the highest possible standards of quality and safety with their products and services.
For a food handling training organization to be accredited by ANSI it needs to adhere to some set standards in terms of quality of trainers, coursework, curriculum, and credibility.
Step 2: Completing the Food Handler Training
The course lasts between 30 minutes and several hours depending on the institution offering the training. You will typically be required to take part in interactive activities, videos, audio, and even full-text learning.
Luckily, thanks to the power of digital technology, you can easily take part in this course wherever you might be.
Depending on your current background and learning abilities you can always opt to take longer to complete the course. This is important if you wish to study and review important details so you can be better prepared for your final test.
Some of the key areas of learning you will be required to master during the training process include:
- Recognizing how food can cause allergic reactions and illnesses
- How to prevent food contamination (or contamination of food-contact surfaces)
- Understanding how the caregiver’s behavior can affect the safety of food
- Learning how to use the appropriate safety gear to improve food safety
- Understand the right temperature (and temperature requirements) for keeping food safe during preparation and storage
- Understanding how to keep the equipment and workplace clean
- Identifying which illnesses or symptoms need to be reported to the management
The overall objective of ANSI food handler training is to acquaint you with the requisite food safety principles and may include additional learning materials specified by the local or state regulators.
Lastly, the courses are available in different languages including English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, American Sign Language, Serbo-Croatian among others.
Step 3: Take the Test
Once you complete the learning sessions, you’ll be required to pass a test. You will simply need to respond to 40 multiple-choice quizzes on different topics about food safety and preparation. In order to pass the Arizona food handler assessment, you will need to get at least 30 questions correct.
To qualify for the food handling card, you will be expected to get a minimum score of 70% to 80% in the test.
Sounds like a hassle? Worry not, most courses have pass rates above 90% – making them fun and easy for just about anybody.
Plus, you can always retake the quiz in case you happen to fall short of the minimum score. Above all, there are dozens of practice exams and revision materials that you can tap into to make yourself better at handling the assessment test.
Step Four: Be Issued The Food Handlers Card
Upon passing the Arizona Food Handlers Card training you will be issued the food handlers card which you can conveniently print at home. The card is valid for 3 years after which you will need to retake the course to ensure that you remain compliant.
In the following counties, the card itself is enough proof of food handling certification:
- Gila County
- Maricopa County
- Mohave County
- Pinal County
However, in six (6) other counties, you will need to present this card to the county food authorities to be issued with a food handlers card. These include:
- Yuma County
- Coconino County
- Santa Cruz County
- La Paz County
- Yavapai County
- Greenlee County
Arizona has a total of fifteen (15) counties. So, what about the other five (5)? You might be wondering. Well, the counties of Apache, Cochise, Graham, Navajo, and Pima do not require a food handlers card.
That said, the strict food safety standards of Arizona still apply there and employers and managers within those specific counties may still require you to possess food handlers training.
What Are the Minimum Requirements for Getting the Arizona Food Handlers Card?
There are no specific minimum requirements for obtaining the food handlers certificate in Arizona. However, most caregivers are mature individuals who have some education or training in caring for others.
Age: Although there is no minimum age requirement to get a food handling certificate in this state, most caregivers are at least 18 years old.
Health: Food handlers are expected to be in good health. Although you can still undertake the training and be certified (upon passing the test) you should avoid handling food if you are vomiting, experiencing diarrhea, gastroenteritis, hepatitis A, hepatitis E, jaundice, or sore throat with fever.
Criminal Record: You can get a food handlers certificate in Arizona even with a past crime record. However, the concerned government department may consider the nature of the criminal offense committed when reviewing your application. In general, people who have been convicted of crimes relating to hygiene and food safety may be denied the card.
In addition to the requirements for obtaining the certificate, some employers may provide their own sets of requirements including having a high school diploma, a driver’s license, and first-aid certification. In some cases, a drug test and/or background check must be passed in order for one to be allowed to practice as a caregiver – and a food handler by extension.
This pretty much sums up how to get a food handlers card in AZ. In a nutshell, it pays to be an individual of good moral standing even when applying for a food handlers certificate with the objective of practicing as a caregiver in the Grand Canyon State.
How Much the Food Handler Card Costs
The cost or fee paid for a food handler certificate may vary depending on the program you opt for. Some trainers charge more than others while some provide you with low upfront costs and try to upsell you on various services later. But in general, you can expect to cough out anywhere between $10 and $30 for a food handling training program in the state of Arizona.
How Long Does the Card Last?
The food handler’s card lasts for up to 3 years from the date when it is issued to you (some counties may have different expiry guidelines – more on this later). After expiry, you will need to be re-issued with the card in order to continue working as a caregiver in Arizona.
So, what’s the process of renewing your food handler’s certificate in Arizona? Well, you will need to repeat the whole issuance process all over again as follows:
Step 1: Link up with an ANSI-accredited food handlers training program of your choice.
Step 2: Complete the mandatory learning program along with the activities that make up the curriculum.
Step 3: Undertake your test and pass with at least 70% of the total score.
Step 4: Depending on the county you’re serving in; you may download the certificate and start using it or in some cases, you will have to present it to your local authorities so that they can provide you with a county-issued card.
The renewal fee may vary from one program to another although it generally falls between $10 and $30. Please note that the fees may change over time, especially in line with the rising cost of living and inflation.
Why Do You Need to Retake the Course Every Three Years?
The entire food handling space is ever-evolving and it is important that you are keeping up with the latest developments and trends in the industry. By undertaking the renewal process every three years, the concerned authorities ensure that you are continuously building upon your education and experience to become a better food handler.
This requirement is not unique to the world of food handlers, though. In the healthcare industry, for instance, nurses have to provide evidence of undertaking Continuous Nursing Education (CNE) as they renew their practicing licenses. Nearly similar rules apply to all other professional careers including medicine and engineering.
Getting a Replacement Card
What if you go through all that hassle and then you accidentally lose your food handlers card? Well, the first thing to note is that since most certification programs are online-based, it is sometimes possible to re-generate your card by either visiting the program’s portal or searching the email the training firm might have sent you when you completed the course.
Alternatively, you can contact them to inquire if they have a backed-up copy of your food card somewhere. Some organizations may require you to fill out a form, pay a fee, or provide proof of identification in order to issue you with a replacement certificate.
Once you manage to retrieve a digital copy of your card you can re-print it and use it in counties that permit you to do so.
What If You Lose Your County-Issued Caregiver Food Card?
The counties of Yuma, Coconino County, Santa Cruz County, La Paz County, Yavapai County, and Greenlee County provide you with a county-issued food card upon completing your training and test. In case you happen to lose this card and still need to practice in the counties you will need to contact the county government authority that issued you with the certificate to inquire about getting a replacement.
The Department of Public Health is the body charged with issuing food handlers cards in Yuca County. The card is valid for 1 year, unlike other counties that have a 3-year validity period. In case you lose your Yuma County food handling card you will be required to pay a $5 replacement. You can also pay an extra $5 for a duplicate card.
NB: Yuma County inspectors don’t accept photocopies of health cards, only originals.
An $8 fee applies when you apply to be issued a food worker’s health card in Coconino County. If you lose your card you will need to report to the Health and Human Services department to be re-issued with one. You may be required to provide your identification information and proof of completion of training.
Santa Cruz County
The Department of Health Services in Santa Cruz oversees the issuance of Food Handler’s Certificates. However, the county does not have an in-house in-person training program for learners meaning you have to present them with a certificate from an accredited food handler for the final approval.
In case you lose your card, you will need to link up with the organization that issued you the card first before getting in touch with the county for reapproval.
La Paz County
In La Paz, you have the flexibility to either undertake your training with an ANSI-certified organization or under the county’s in-person training programs. The county’s in-person training programs, however, happen infrequently and at select physical locations within the county. Once proof of training is provided, a county card is issued at a cost of $15.
Lost cards are re-issued through the same process whereby you have to contact your trainer for proof of completion of training and then present it to the county for the certificate to be re-issued.
The Yavapai Food Handling certification is valid for two years and is issued after proof of completion of training from an ANSI-approved institution. The cost of issuing the card is $15 but may be waived for people with limited contact with food.
You may need to re-take the test and contact the county administrators in case of a lost card.
This county requires you to undertake an online assessment for you to be issued a food handler’s card at a cost of $10. The card is valid for 3 years and is issued by the Greenlee County Health Department.
To be re-issued with another card in case the original one is lost, you need to provide proof of completion of training. As long as the lost card was still valid, the county will re-issue you with a new one. But if it had expired, you will automatically need to re-take the test.
By law, caregivers are required to have a food handlers card to work in Arizona. This is due to the fact that caregivers often have to prepare, serve, or even clean the dishes for their clients.
There are different ways to get certified depending on which county you operate from. For counties like Maricopa, Gila, Mohave, Pinal, etc. the certificate you obtain at the end of your training from an ANSI-approved program is enough proof that you are licensed to practice.
Generally, getting a food handling certificate is important if you want to boost your career as a caregiver. Not only is it a legal requirement but also a fantastic way to improve your work environment and reduce food wastage.