Food Handler's Permit: Why Do I Need One? How Do I Get One?


Food Handler's Permit: Why Do I Need One? How Do I Get One?

Marshalee Valentine

Thursday, January 16, 2020

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Regulations under section 14 of the Public Health Act; The Public Health Food Handling Regulation 1998, Section 26 state that “no person, including an operator, shall be employed in, or assist in, a food-handling establishment unless he is the holder of a food handler's employing persons permit”.

This means that all individuals planning to work in food-handling establishments are required by law to have a food handler's permit prior to being employed to a food establishment, regardless of their role in the facility. Managers, cashiers, chefs, waiters, vendors (indoor/outdoor), production employees and even culinary students all need to have food handler's permits. The food handler's permit for students, however, is valid for the duration of the course of study. Upon graduating from a course of study in a recognised training institution, prospective food handlers who have training in food handling are not required to go through the educational sessions, but will be required to do the assessment quiz administered by the health department.

Once you apply for the permit at one of 13 locations, the health department will plan an onsite or general training session at a public clinic as per your requirements. Once issued, all food handler's permits are valid for one year from the date of issue, and must be renewed every year. Always have your food handler's permit available at all times in the event of an unannounced inspection; establishments can avoid a sanction by having copies of employee's permits on file. Remember, working in a food establishment without a food handler's permit is a breach of public health regulations.

How do I get a food handler's permit?

Forms can be collected at any of the 13 parish health department offices islandwide or the website of the Western, Southern, North Eastern or South Eastern Regional health authorities.

New applicants are required to submit two passport-size pictures which can be stamped and signed by a notary public official.

Application fees are J$500 and accredited students and trainees in educational institutions J$300.

If you are an individual seeking the permit you will be required to attend a food handler's clinic which will include the public health officer briefing you on the basic requirements of food safety.

Alternately, a company can request an onsite food handler's clinic at a cost of J$1,000 per employee for up to 25 employees and J$1,300 per employee thereafter.

After completing the training session, you will be given a test to ensure you understand the content that was delivered. Normally, you are made aware of whether or not you are successful immediately and will receive the permits within a month. Participants who fail are usually asked to undergo the training session once more.

Along with the training and exam an interview is conducted to ensure you have no communicable diseases at the time of training along with checking to see if you have presented yourself in a hygienic manner.

Quick tip: Are you wearing nail polish, have long nails, have ungroomed facial hair, cold sores, cold/flu on the day of the clinic? These may prevent you from acquiring the permit even if you were successful at the exam.

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