Working in the food service industry requires specific knowledge. Some workers must know how to properly prepare and cook food and understand food allergens. Others must know how to maintain a clean work environment, understand facility maintenance and much more. Managers must also understand purchasing concepts, revenue baselines and employee training. The best way to learn about these and other food-service concepts is to take food-service certification classes and even complete a food-service certification program.
Accredited universities such as Penn State University, the University of Southern California and Cornell University offer food service certificate programs. Cornell offers its program in food service management through its eCornell online education system. Designed for professionals in the hotel, restaurant and other hospitality industries, the complete program consists of four courses totaling 60 hours of education. Students learn various topics related to the food service industry, including purchasing, receiving, storage, menu planning, production and control systems. Students that successfully complete and pass the program receive a certificate in food service management from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.
Some food service industry associations offer various food service training classes. The Retail Food Alliance and the National Restaurant Association both offer food service management courses. As the educational arm of the National Restaurant Association, ServSafe has certified more than two million food service workers. ServSafe certification requires participants to meet certain state and local health department regulatory requirements. The ServSafe management certificate course contains four separate units, which cover everything from handling food, to running a food-service operation, to facilities management and regulations. ServSafe certification remains valid for five years. State and local regulations and employers may have different requirements.
A number of private consulting companies offer food service training courses. One such company, Safe Food Handlers Corporation, provides a food manager certification course designed to meet state, county and city health department standards around the country. At the end of the course, each student takes either the Conference for Food Protection examination or a state-approved examination specific to the student's state of residence. Topics covered in the certification course include food handling, food preparation, food receiving and storage, facility maintenance, housekeeping and sanitizing, management responsibilities, pest control procedures, personal hygiene and more. The Food Manager Certification Examination is available in several different languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, Japanese, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese.