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Food manager certification program

Food manager certification program

You have to get certified as a food manager to get a food service permit. Find out the details about the program first.

Still have questions? Contact:
Inspectional Services
617-635-5300
1010 Massachusetts Avenue
5th Floor
Boston, MA 02118
United States

Food service regulations

The State passed the Massachusetts Food Establishment Regulation in 2001. The regulations make sure all food service businesses meet health and safety codes. The law established these rules:

  • You must have at least one Person in Charge who works as a full-time manager.
  • The Person in Charge must be 18 or older, and they have to get certified as a food manager.
  • You must have a backup Person in Charge for when the main person isn’t there.
  • The backup person doesn’t need to get certified, but they must understand food safety and illness prevention.

If you serve food at your business, you must have a certified food manager working for you. Certification is part of the process for getting a food service permit (link to how-to). The only businesses that don't need to get certified are:

  • temporary food vendors
  • daycares that only serve snacks
  • businesses that only sell pre-packaged food
  • businesses that serve food that needs little preparation and doesn't pose a health risk, and
  • businesses that serve US Department of Agriculture meat and poultry that have 120 parts-per million of nitrate and 3.5 percent brine — like hot dogs.

What is food manager certification?

The purpose of the certification program is to protect public health. It teaches food safety risks and ways to prevent foodborne illnesses. You need to be able to apply this knowledge when serving food.

The Person in Charge makes sure the establishment meets food safety codes. They must be able to recognize safety hazards and take steps to correct them.

How to get certified

You'll need to pass an accredited exam to get certified. There are four different companies that offer it:

You can work with an independent company that will administer the test. Many companies offer training before the exam. Training isn't a requirement, but we recommend it.

Contact us to find training in your area. We'll give you a list of companies along with their course schedules. You can call us at 617-635-5300, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. You can also just contact one of the groups listed above.