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How to become a certified food protection manager

FDA recommends operators have one on site to maintain food safety compliance

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation last month that all restaurants employ certified food protection managers has prompted many operators to ask what is required to achieve certification.

The FDA found in a 10-year study of retail food risks that the presence of a certified food protection manager was strongly correlated with higher compliance levels with food safety practices, and the agency said in October that it would seek to make such an employee a requirement in its Model Food Code.

EARLIER: FDA recommends on-site food safety managers at restaurants

The Food Code — the adoption of all or part of which is optional for states, counties and cities — already has provisions on certified food protection managers, but only as an option and not a requirement.

According to the current Food Code, an individual seeking certification as a food protection manager must do so through one of three programs accredited by the American National Standards Institute, or ANSI:

The National Restaurant Association's ServSafe program


National Registry of Food Safety Professionals

The Conference for Food Protection  — a public-private body that advises the FDA and sets the certified food protection manager exam accreditation standards enforced by ANSI — said individuals wishing to become certified need to pass only one of the accredited group’s exams. The CFP also noted that purchasing the training materials or training sessions offered or recommended by the certification programs isn't necessary to become certified.

Officials of the Washington-based National Restaurant Association said that to prepare for the ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification Exam, students can take either ServSafe classroom or online training.

They said that while prices for classroom training vary, the materials used in such training are the ServSafe Essentials textbook with exam for $70.30, the ServSafe Coursebook with exam for $86, or the ServSafe Certification Exam only for $38. An online training course is offered for $125, and the online exam costs $36.

To find ServSafe classroom training, interested parties can visit or contact their local state restaurant association, distributor or local community college, many of which offer ServSafe curriculum.

Those wishing to take the certification exam, either the paper or online version, must have a registered ServSafe proctor administer the exam, the NRA said. Proctors can be found at or through a local state restaurant association.

Baltimore, Md.-based Prometric, which offers what it calls Certified Professional Food Manager, or CPFM, exams, provides and recommends the training manuals, kits and other materials available through a partner group, the National Environmental Health Association. Manuals cost $26, and quantity discounts are available, the company said.

Candidates for Prometric certification can take the exam either at a Prometric test center or at third-party proctored location. To test at a Prometric center, candidates call (800) 624-2736 to pay and receive a unique eligibility number that they can use the next day to register online for the next available exam at To take the exam at a proctored non-Prometric location, candidates need to register with their sponsoring organization, local health department or a training company that provides certified Prometric proctors. Pricing varies by third-party provider or test location.

The National Registry of Food Safety Professionals did not reply to a phone call and e-mail seeking program particulars, but the group does include test candidate information resources at its website,

According to the FDA's Food Code, a certified food protection manager constitutes one of three options for a “person in charge” during an inspection or on demand by regulatory officials to “demonstrate knowledge of foodborne disease prevention, application of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point principles, and the requirements of this Code.”

The other two ways to demonstrate such knowledge are having no violations of priority items during the inspection and correctly answering the inspector’s questions covering 17 areas of inquiry.

Contact Alan J. Liddle at [email protected].

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